NZ First the lone voice calling for Christchurch mosque gunman to be sent to Australia

10:41 am on 28 August 2020

New Zealand First is the lone voice in Parliament calling for the Christchurch terrorist to see out his sentence in Australia.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters. Photo: RNZ

Winston Peters applauded the sentencing, saying that it matched the depravity of the terrorist's crimes against the Islamic community and all New Zealanders.

But he said the cost of keeping Brenton Tarrant in isolation should fall on the country that raised him.

"I don't think the New Zealand taxpayers, after all this misery, should go ahead and be mugged and brutalised a second time year upon year at enormous cost," he said.

Due to international obligations for the treatment of prisoners, the gunman has been kept in isolation to ensure his safety.

Earlier this month it was revealed the special security measures will cost $3.6 million over two years.

Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis declined RNZ's request for an interview.

A spokesperson said he "would not comment on operational arrangements or the costs of managing this prisoner".

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also reluctant to delve into the question yesterday, saying the focus should be on the families and victims.

"I would say though that there isn't currently a legal basis for it. So it would be a very complex undertaking. I think the thing though, more than just the legal basis for it that I would be most interested in is the views of the family," she said.

Peters accepted it would be complicated but said it was a complication worth sorting through.

"If we've got to pass legislation to make it happen, if we've got to go to the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to request it we should.

"Given the recent expulsions of New Zealanders out of Australia, some of whom only arrived there when they were three or four years of age and all their formative years were shaped by the Australia culture and system, I would've thought that's the least he could do," Peters said.

National Party leader Judith Collins said given the vast impact and sheer hatred behind his crime, the sentence handed down was entirely appropriate.

For her, the question of where he should see out the sentence is not complicated.

"As a matter of principal he's done his crime here, as far as I'm concerned he can do his time here too and put up with a New Zealand prison where everyone knows what he has done," she said.

Collins said setting principal aside - it would open New Zealand up for a tit for tat with the 900 odd New Zealanders in Australian prisons.

"I realise that it's going to cost us a lot of money, but it would also cost us a tremendous amount more to take back all those New Zealanders who are currently in Australian prisons," she said.

ACT leader David Seymour said while nothing could be proportional to this heinous crime, life without parole was the only rational choice.

No caption

Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

He too is rejecting Peters call for him to be deported to Australia.

"It's legally impractical to send him back to Australia and I'm really saddened that Mr Peters has tried to make a political point on a day such as today," he said.

Seymour said Corrections should be thinking about ways to trim the costs of accommodating him.

Greens co-leader James Shaw felt the sentence has brought about a real sense of justice and closure.

He believed most New Zealanders wanted him to see out his sentence in a prison in this country.

"This guy committed the most foul act of terrorism on New Zealand's shores, you know, a mass murder event unparalleled in our history and I don't think that the mere cost of imprisonment would determine what you want to do with him," he said.

Ardern said with the victims and families focused on the sentencing, this isn't a question she has yet asked them.

She said their view will be a "big driver" in whether this is something the government even considers.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs