13 Jul 2020

Thirty deportees to arrive in New Zealand this week: 'We're obliged to receive them'

8:37 am on 13 July 2020

Thirty New Zealanders will be deported from Australia this week and will stay in a state-run isolation facility for 14 days upon arrival.

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Health Minister Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Australia's deportation programme, which was halted during the Covid-19 lockdown, is resuming.

Extra security is being put in place, and risk assessments of the individuals will be carried out.

Inmates have told RNZ they are relieved an end is in sight after lengthy stays in Australian immigration jails.

A spokesperson for the government's Covid-19 response team says the deportees will number 30, and will arrive on a charter flight this week.

Health Minister Chris Hipkins told Morning Report the government is against the deportations but Australia is within the law to do it.

"We're receiving them because we're obliged to receive them but it would be wrong to say we're happy about it."

The deportees will be staying at a dedicated inner-city hotel with enhanced security attached to it, Hipkins said.

Once they finish their quarantine, the deportees will be released into the community.

"In the eyes of the law, they've done their time, they have been released, and we have to treat them accordingly."

He said there would be no tolerance for anyone breaking the rules.

The minister in charge of managed isolation, Megan Woods, told Morning Report there will be a pause after the first group to see how it went.

"This group will be a first go at it and we'll see how that's managed."

Woods said 30 people is a relatively small cohort and shouldn't be too difficult to manage.

She said she expects the deportees to behave like all returnees.

National Party leader Todd Muller said New Zealanders would be rightly nervous about the deportees.

"The government needs to front up with the details about the facility and tell us where it's going to be and how secure it's going to be and, of course, that's a challenge because the managed isolation solutions haven't been secure - and that's with the support of the army and the police.

"On what basis are they going to give us confidence that they can manage this?"

Hipkins said they are keeping the details of the managed isolation facility private to prevent vigilante justice from occurring.

He said there have been instances of individuals and their families getting bullied online.

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