Over the past three years New Zealand has deported eight Aussie criminals, while Australia has expelled 1023 Kiwis.
Immigration numbers show the eight Australian citizens have been deported from New Zealand for criminal convictions or fraudulently obtained residence in the past three years.
This is less than one per cent of Australia’s equivalent deportations since 2015.
A quarter of the 1023 deportees have subsequently been convicted of crimes. And there is no political will in New Zealand to reciprocate Australia’s policy.
In Australia, a 2014 change to the Migration Act allowed visas to be cancelled if a person was deemed “a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community”.
Immigration lawyer Nicky Robertson said deportation cases in New Zealand were evaluated on circumstance, including the level of criminality.
“The more serious an offence that a resident is convicted of, the more circumstances that outweigh why they shouldn’t be deported. They would have to be reasonably persuasive, especially if Immigration thinks there is a risk to the public.”
Under New Zealand law, a non-citizen resident is liable for deportation if convicted for an offence earning at least three months imprisonment during their first two years of residence.
Residents of up to five years can be deported for offences earning two or more years imprisonment, and residents of up to ten years for offences earning five or more years imprisonment.
Immigration New Zealand can pursue deportation for convictions such as drink driving, even if the maximum sentence is not applied, but this can be appealed at the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
“To issue someone a deportation liability notice if they’ve been convicted with careless driving causing injury, that would certainly seem out of proportion to the actual offence. Because people do have accidents,” Robertson said.
Australians, who gain automatic residence upon arrival, make up 0.4 per cent of the total 1937 people deported for the three years to December 2017.
New Zealand has roughly ten per cent of the expatriate population that Australia has: 60,000 Australian-born residents were counted in the 2013 census, when 650,000 New Zealand-citizens lived in Australia.
Immigration New Zealand acting assistant general manager Senta Jehle said it was not possible to specify the convictions of each of the Australian deportees.
“But they include fraud, attempted murder, drug offences, sex offences, burglary, and false passport offences.”
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the issue of Kiwi-born criminal deportees with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull during a March meeting, to which Turnbull said it was their “fundamental right” to expel criminal Kiwis.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters’ office said Australia was entitled to set its own immigration policies, and New Zealand had made its concerns about that policy plain to its Tasman counterparts.
Immigration minister Iain Lees-Galloway said, in an emailed statement, changing the current law for deporting criminal residents was not a priority.
Former-immigration minister Michael Woodhouse was not motivated to retaliate through legislative change.
Australia believes it is very fair to New Zealanders, offering “unfettered” access to the country’s labour market and does have an appeal process for deportation cases, Woodhouse said.
There is a concern that reciprocity for the deportation of Kiwi-born criminals would have New Zealanders lose existing privileges in Australia.
“I was comfortable with the settings that we had, I thought it spoke to our values as New Zealanders.
“People can draw their own conclusions from the fairness or otherwise of the actions that [the Australian] Government is taking . . . there’s no doubt though, that that has led to an increased risk in New Zealand.”