17 Oct 2015

Kiwis facing deportation plea for leniency

10:49 am on 17 October 2015

A New Zealand-born mother of six who has lived almost her entire life in Australia and was jailed for drug offences has begged Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to soften his stance on deportations.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull arrives in Auckland with his wife, Lucy, on 16 October 2015.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull arrives in Auckland with his wife, Lucy. Photo: POOL / Michael Bradley

Kelly Blacker, 43, is locked in the Perth Immigration Detention Centre as she appeals the Australian Government's decision to revoke her permanent residency.

She is one of 21 women out of a total of 196 New Zealanders currently held in immigration detention facilities in Australia.

Ms Blacker's mother is currently caring for her four youngest children, who face a possible future separated from their mother if she is deported.

There was no guarantee the children could return to New Zealand if their mother was deported there. due to their family circumstances.

Ms Blacker had served almost the whole of a 19-month prison sentence for drug offences when she was told in late August that she was set to be transferred to immigration detention.

"I was in complete and utter shock," she said from detention.

"And I cried my eyes out, because I'd told the kids that I'd be released on the 10th of September.

"I have pictures of all my children around my room. I just look at them every day and just say a little prayer."

Ms Blacker's mother Christobel Blacker has been caring for the children as they await the fate of their mother.

She said her daughter, who became addicted to methamphetamine during a violent relationship, was determined to turn over a clean slate.

"She's just a mother, she just wants to come home and do what she can and look after her kids," Ms Blacker said.

"She's served her time, she knows she's done wrong, she's remorseful, she just wants to get on with it."

Another New Zealander affected is Ricardo Young, who was taken from jail and placed in a detention centre on the morning of his release from a two-year sentence.

His partner Nikita Regan is the mother to his five-year-old daughter and sid the laws were pointless and were damaging Australian families.

But Police Federation of Australia chief executive Mark Burgess said it did not make sense to treat New Zealanders differently from other nationals.

"If you're not an an Australian citizen, you're here on a visa and you break the law, and you commit criminal offences, then I think the general public would expect that you would be denied the right to stay here," Mr Burgess said.

Deportation key talking point during PM's NZ visit

Mr Turnbull is visiting New Zealand this weekend, where the deportation from Australia of New Zealand citizens with serious criminal records looms as a contentious political issue.

Changes to Australia's Migration Act that were passed late last year changed the threshold for the cancellation of visas or the revocation of permanent residency.

Previously, those with serious criminal records were targeted for deportation, but under the new legislation, serving prison term of 12 months or more results in visa cancellation on character grounds.

The 12-month prison sentence can also be made up of cumulative sentences, meaning that even those who serve time in prison on a series of relatively short sentences are caught up in the changes.

Prime Minister John Key

Prime Minister John Key Photo: Getty Images

New Zealand prime minister John Key has flagged that potentially up to 1000 New Zealand citizens could face deportation in coming months.

Mr Key has criticised Australia's new migration laws for setting the threshold for deportation too low.

He said those who have lived their entire lives in Australia should be treated as a special case, given the close ties between the two nations.

"I would like to see some reflection of the fact that there is this unique relationship between New Zealand and Australia," Mr Key said.

"It seems logical to us that there should be some flexibility here."

Anger has been growing in New Zealand over the issue, with 160 New Zealand nationals deported already this year.

Mr Turnbull said that he understood the issue was a "very live one" in New Zealand.

"I look forward to discussing this issue with John Key but it is very important that we maintain our standards, our security," Mr Turnbull said.


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