Kiwi children could be deported from Australia

Shane Cowlishaw

National Affairs Editor Shane Cowlishaw writes about topics including education, justice, social development, and immigration. Twitter: @scowlishaw

An Australian committee will soon report back on whether to allow the deportation of under 18-year-old migrants, including New Zealanders, who commit crimes. What impact could this have on Trans-Tasman relations?

Kiwi teenagers could soon be sent back to New Zealand from Australia if convicted of a crime.

Our neighbours are considering whether to amend the law to allow the deportation of child criminals, with the possibility the age range could be lowered from 18 to 16.

Australia’s Joint Standing Committee on Migration is conducting an inquiry into migrant settlement outcomes that includes the possibility of deporting youth, with submissions closing next month.

It follows a 2014 amendment to the Australian Migration Act that made it easier to cancel the visas of non-citizens if they were sentenced to jail for 12 months or more, or found guilty of child sex offences.

Since it was enacted, 886 people over 18 have been sent back to New Zealand from Australia.

The shift caused a whirlwind of negative publicity in New Zealand following tales of people stuck in limbo in Australian detention centres.

“If it affects New Zealanders, it’s basically using them as second-class citizens to demonise them as part of a cheap political stunt.”

To cope with the influx the Government announced extra funding to help support the New Zealanders arriving back home, many of whom had grown up in Australia.

But that did not stop some from returning to bad habits, with a reoffending rate of more than 20 percent.

Any move to deport children back to New Zealand would likely lead to a similar uproar and raise serious questions about…

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