Immigration minister Peter Dutton is standing by the government’s policy that has increasing numbers of New Zealand criminals facing deportation.
The New Zealand government is concerned about new immigration laws that mean anyone who isn’t a citizen and who has served a sentence of 12 months or more can be sent home.
Nearly 200 New Zealanders are being held in detention centres, including the notorious facility on Christmas Island, awaiting deportation.
But Mr Dutton is continuing to back the policy.
“I’m married to a Kiwi and I have nothing against Kiwis. We welcome thousands of people each year from New Zealand, they’re our closest friends and family,” he told Channel Nine’s A Current Affair program on Thursday.
“But if people are doing the wrong thing, whether they’re from New Zealand or any other country, they can expect to have their visa cancelled and be sent back.”
Earlier this week, Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully met with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in New York.
Mr Key said he was “pretty blunt” with the message he gave to the Australian government over the way New Zealanders are being detained and deported.
“I said there’s a special relationship between New Zealand and Australia and you challenge that, to a degree, when you see New Zealanders being treated in this way,” he told Radio New Zealand.
Mr Key said some of them had spent almost their entire lives in Australia, having gone there when they were very young.
“We also deport people, but not in the way the Australians are talking about,” he said.
Mr Key wants to raise the matter when he meets with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The issue will also be discussed by Mr Dutton and New Zealand’s Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, but no date for that has yet been set.