17 Sep 2015

NZ to challenge Australian immigration policy

9:41 am on 17 September 2015

The Justice Minister says Australia has got its hardline immigration policy wrong and the New Zealand government will challenge it.

Caucus run 21/07/15

Justice Minister Amy Adams said New Zealand would be having a conversation with Australia about its immigration policy. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A law change there covering people with criminal convictions has seen the number of New Zealanders being held in detention centres double in just a few months.

Three months after the law change, which took place in December 2014, there were 84 New Zealanders in detention in Australia - and, by July, that figure had risen to 166.

The law has also increased the Australian Immigration Minister's powers to cancel visas for relatively minor offences, and some of the people affected will also be sent back here.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said the government was not comfortable with Canberra's policy.

"We don't think the settings are quite right. They are creating some unfairness and we want Australia to review it," she said.

"Of course, it's their entire sovereign decision, but we're certainly going to be having that conversation with them."

Prime Minister John Key told Morning Report on Monday that Australia had a legal right to deport people under the new rules it had introduced, and New Zealand had a legal responsibility to take those people back.

But Mr Key said deporting some people who had lived in Australia from early childhood was not good for anybody.