30 Oct 2015

Deportation laws keeping Aussies safe, says MP

8:42 am on 30 October 2015

Australia's hard-line new laws on deporting criminals are about keeping citizens safe, says the country's Immigration Minister Peter Dutton.

A file photo of the jetty on Christmas Island (August 2013)

Photo: AAP

The laws were brought into effect in December and mean that anyone who has served a sentence of 12 months or more in Australia and is not a citizen could be deported.

Hundreds of New Zealanders, who were residing in Australia, have already been sent back to New Zealand, while many more are being held in detention centres.

In an interview with a Sydney radio station, Mr Dutton was asked about the impact on New Zealanders who are being sent home after many years of living across the Tasman.

He said the law allowed officials to consider how long a person had been in the country and whether they had Australian-born children, but that was weighed up against the severity of the crime they had committed.

People who had been convicted of assault, robbery or rape could expect to be deported, said Mr Dutton.

The new law has been widely criticised, and attempts by Prime Minister John Key to get New Zealanders an exemption have been unsuccessful.

In a meeting with Mr Key, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said his country would be more compassionate, but recent media attention has focussed on stories of parents being separated from their children and detailed the case of one detained New Zealander who has been unable to return home and care for his dying partner.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs