9 Feb 2019

Winston Peters raises concerns about Oz deportation policy

7:13 pm on 9 February 2019

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has met with his Australian counterpart, once again raising concerns around the country's deportation policy.

Australia's Minister for Foreign Affair Marise Payne and her New Zealand counterpart Winston Peters

Australia's Minister for Foreign Affair Marise Payne and her New Zealand counterpart Winston Peters Photo: RNZ/ Tom Furley

Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne was in the country for two days for her first six-monthly policy discussions with her New Zealand counterpart since taking over the role from Julie Bishop last year.

Ms Payne dined at Mr Peters home last night before the pair and their delegations took a trip to Waiheke Island today to begin talks.

Speaking to media this afternoon Winston Peters said it was an important chance to discuss regional and global issues shared by the two nations.

"Minister Payne and I had a very warm and productive meeting today. We discussed how we plan to work together in the Pacifica and the wider region, amongst other things the Trans-Tasman relationship including New Zealanders in Australia, the Pacific regional co-operation plans we both have, international security issues, climate change, and above all our determination to see the world as it really is with our eyes wide open and to be ready as two countries to play our full role."

The pair had met previously, most recently at the APEC conference in Papua New Guinea in November 2018.

"Our two countries' approach towards frank, open, and direct communication I think it's fair to say very much characterised today's consultations and I appreciate that," Ms Payne said.

Mr Peters told media he had reiterated the country's stance on Australia's deportation policy, saying its integrity had started to be eroded.

"The most recent case was a Cook Islander who had never lived in New Zealand but carried a New Zealand passport [and] was so evicted. Now I've made representations and she's promised to take them to the highest sectors of political judgment."

He described the decision as "without logical merit"

"Then again we just saw in Australia the New Zealand citizenship rules applied to people who'd never lived in New Zealand including Barnaby Joyce. Now when you've got that sort of illogicality in some parts of your legal system then our hope is it can be cleaned up and we'll go and make representations to get what we think is a fairer system in operation in Australia, not the one that applies now."

The deportation concerns were brought up in the same meetings this time last year with then-Minister Julie Bishop.

"Julie Bishop got it, they're both trained lawyers and they both got the argument we're making. It comes from the point of view of fairness really. To pick the eyes out of a nation's expats in that way, when it's stretched down to people who left here when they were three or four years of age in our view is not right. We're not going to change our view on that, we're going to carry on going on pressing on it both to the Australian political system, the Australian opposition, and indeed the Australian people.

Last year New Zealand's High Commissioner described Australia's deportation policies as "corrosive" and harming Trans-Tasman relations.

He expected the issue would be brought up with Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and would form part of discussions between Mr Morrison and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern when they meet in a few weeks time.

"Our people are making a substantial contribution and all we want is at this level where people are being asked to leave the country for there to be some common judicial principals involved. At this point we've made it clear we don't think that level of judicial propriety is happening at all."

Peters pokes National

When asked whether he had, or would, be meeting with his former counterpart Julie Bishop who has been in the country he said he had not and would not.

Ms Bishop spoke at a National Party caucus dinner in Hamilton earlier this week.

Asked if it was appropriate for a current Australian politician to get involved with New Zealand domestic politics Mr Peters said as she was now a backbencher she was well within her right.

"I can tell you that personally I've been asked a number of times to engage with Australian politics and never have but then my real point is the National party is so desperate that I'm not going to criticise Julie Bishop for trying to help them."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs