Australia asked not to turn New Zealand into ‘penal colony’ — Analysis

Maori leaders have demanded Australia cease deporting violent criminals from New Zealand. Many of them are “products” of Australian society who have no ties to New Zealand, he argued.

“New Zealand has got to stop being the dumping ground for Australian criminals,” Matthew Tukaki, the executive chairman of the country’s National Maori Authority, told the Guardian on Monday. “Quite frankly, I don’t think any Australian would accept their country becoming a penal colony.”

The controversial Australian law, which New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labeled “corrosive” last year, allows Canberra to deport foreign nationals who commit violent crimes back to New Zealand, even if they have lived for most of their lives in Australia. 

One instance: An Australian court decided last month that a 37 year old criminal should be removed to New Zealand as he was likely to reoffend in Australia. He has been convicted of assault and aggravated entering and has lived away from New Zealand ever since he was eight years old. All his family members are now living in Australia. 

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Similar to the case above, this week a court ordered that a member of a motorcycle gang with 44 convictions be sent back home to New Zealand. He had arrived in Australia at age four in 1995. 

According to the Australian Institute of International Affairs, almost 2,500 New Zealanders have been deported since 2015, according to April’s data. This was based on information from New Zealand police. 

Tukaki said Canberra’s deportation practice could potentially lead to “gangland wars”In New Zealand, there are similar cities to “those that occurred in both Sydney and Melbourne in the early 2000s if we are not careful.” Many violent deportees “are made and a product of the Australian environment,”He disagreed.

Australia “not listening” to New Zealand’s concerns, which means that Wellington must start “to play hardball,” Tukaki said.

A spokesperson for Alex Hawke, Australia’s immigration minister, told The Guardian that foreign nationals are routinely deported to protect “the safety and security of our community.” 

“Violent foreign offenders who do serious harm in our community do not belong here and will not be allowed to stay under this government’s policies,”They said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also stood behind the policy. “You commit a crime here, you’re convicted, once you have done your time, we send you home,”He said it last year. 

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