12 Mar 2020

Aussie deportations: Time for NZ govt to 'step forward' on world stage

11:47 am on 12 March 2020

Labour Party MP Louisa Wall has accepted a petition at parliament today asking MPs to dob Australia into the United Nations over its human rights record.

Filipa Payne outside the Australian High Commission in Wellington

Iwi in Australia co-founder Filipa Payne, says its deportation policy is an international embarrassment. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

A UN review of Australia's human rights record is due in November.

About 200 New Zealand citizens detained throughout Australia or on Christmas Island have signed the petition.

The detainees want Australia to exclude long-term permanent residents of its policy of deporting those found guilty of crimes and they want an easier path to Australian citizenship.

Wall has also vowed to continue the fight against Australia's deportation policy.

Iwi in Australia co-founder Filipa Payne says it's an international embarrassment for Australia and the best way to get change is to keep mentioning it at the United Nations.

"Australia are not willing to come forward and be morally held accountable for their actions.

"In fact, they've been quite immoral in their actions and causing a lot of harm and damage to people and New Zealand society is picking up the tab for that and I think it's time for our government to step forward as a leader in this world and actually say that Australia's human rights abuses need to be addressed by the United Nations."

Last month Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admonished Australia for the policy and told Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to stop exporting his people and his problems.

Payne said Ardern's international reputation means other nations will take notice.

"We have a political leader, a prime minister at the moment, who is a hot property globally. Everybody loves her on the global spectrum.

"She handled the mosque shootings with such class and such mana that I believe the same can be said about human rights abuses that are going on in Australia."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison attend the signing of the Indigenous Collaboration Arrangement at Admiralty House in Sydney on February 28, 2020.

Jacinda Ardern and Scott Morrison Photo: BIANCA DE MARCHI / POOL / AFP

Since Australia changed section 501 of its Migration Act in 2014 more than 2000 people have been sent back to New Zealand.

Clive Paku was charged with a crime while he was living in Australia and Immigration officials turned up with the paperwork to begin the deportation process while he was on bail.

He has never faced a court for his actions as trial dates have been changed because he has been unable to attend.

He successfully overturned the deportation order only to have officials withdraw his visa and start the deportation process again - which was heart-breaking, he said.

That all happened while he was being detained on Christmas Island where he said he saw detainees self-harm and even commit suicide.

The ordeal took a great toll on his family and he did not see his children for three years. His life had since picked up because he now has his children living with him again.

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon said the NZ Human Rights Commission supports the petition and wants to see it addressed at the UN.

He's highly critical of Australia's policy, saying the average person's stay in detention is 496 days compared with just 12 days for people detained in Canada.

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