Much has been made by the NZ media and politicians of the Australian decision to inter and deport people imprisoned for at least 12 months for serious crimes. Unfortunately, our NZ political parties are, as usual, unable to work together to actually achieve anything. National is focused on its political relationship with the Australian government and is not going to ‘rock the boat’ for a bunch of criminals; whilst Labour seems more interested in points-scoring in Parliament, on the basis that there might be some people deported who have not committed serious crimes.
If what we read and see in the media is reasonably accurate, the issues appear to be:
- Only criminals convicted of serious crimes are being deported – although some argue that is not the case.
NZ also deports criminals. Any non-citizen migrant convicted of, for example DUI, which has a potential sentence of 3 months imprisonment, is automatically liable for deportation.
- The criminals have in many cases been in Australia since they were children and therefore, to some extent at least, their criminality is a result of their conditioning in that country.
- NZ has an effective appeals and judicial process which protects the basic human rights of people caught up in such situations. Presumably Australia has also, but is denying those concerned access to legal and consular support.
Denying such rights, not only to the prisoner, but indirectly to their partners and children; is in blatant breach of several international obligations to which Australia is a signatory.
- Australia gets rid of one immediate problem and its politicians can play the ‘migrants are the cause of our problems’ game; but opens up long term issues of solo mums and fatherless children in Australia, and angry disaffiliated young men in NZ.
- Although the NZ government has apparently known this was to happen for a year, their head-in-the-sand, don’t spend any money attitude means they have failed to plan for what is to happen to the deportees when they arrive. Even now, it seems government is only focused on identifying these people and then letting them go out into the community with no support, no family, no jobs.
Thankfully, we treat refuges better than we’ll be treating our own returning citizens.
- How much of this hardening attitude in Australia is in reaction to the downturn in the economy of ‘the lucky country’ and an attempt to get migrants out of jobs that Aussie unemployed could perhaps do?
In the meantime, we continue to watch the situation carefully and hope for a reasonable outcome from across the ditch.