Kiwi teenager first minor to be deported to New Zealand from Australia

The Australian Government has deported a 15-year-old boy to New Zealand, understood to be the first minor to be sent back across the Tasman.
But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was in the dark about the removal until calls from the media.

The touchdown of a flight from Brisbane to Auckland last week reignited a row over Australias hardline enforcement of a populist immigration policy that has dogged diplomatic relations since 2014.

The removal of the teenager is set to further inflame tensions, with one Australian lawyer suggesting Scott Morrisons government has breached international laws.

The flight from Australia flew a new batch of deportees to Auckland last week.


* Australian Minister Peter Dutton 'trashes his own reputation' by insulting NZ deportees, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta says

* When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under pressure, a touch of 'Kiwi bashing' plays well

* Product of Australia

The child was now in a managed isolation facility, but separated from the other deported New Zealanders.

His background and circumstance was said to be complicated and messy.

A spokesman for Oranga Tamariki did not address questions from Stuff, but said in a statement:Oranga Tamariki has been working extensively with the relevant authorities in both Australia and New Zealand to support this young persons arrival into New Zealand.

He is currently in a managed isolation facility and receiving support while undertaking quarantine.

Due to this young persons age and privacy considerations it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was not told of the deportation of a minor from Australia last week.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet news conference on Monday, Ardern said she was unaware of the deportation until calls from Stuff earlier that day.

Usually, two weeks prior to deportations, the Australian Border Force share details of the deportees with New Zealand counterparts in police and Corrections. This includes their criminal history, and any gang links.

Its not clear if that happened in this case.

Ardern said she did not receive that breakdown.

She has asked officials for a briefing and wants to look at the circumstances of the deportation. At this point, those who need to know do, Ardern said.

Morrison knows my position on the policy, she said.

Last week Peter Dutton, the Australian home affairs minister, was interviewed for a channel Nine News report about the deportations, and said, It's taking out the trash, then we can make Australia a safer place.

Peter Dutton, the Australian home affairs minister, said of deportees: It's taking out the trash, then we can make Australia a safer place".

Nine was permitted to film deportees being escorted onto a flight to New Zealand, and a reporter goaded them by saying: Our country doesn't want you, are you excited to go home?"

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Dutton's comments only serve to trash his own reputation.

Australia's Border Force insists the 15-year-old was not on the Brisbane flight, but wouldnt give further details about how he was transported.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Home Affairs said, in a written statement: The Department does not comment on individual cases.

A non-citizens visa must be cancelled if they are serving a full-time term of imprisonment for an offence committed in Australia and they have, at any time, been sentenced to a period of 12 months or more imprisonment, regardless of their age or nationality.

The statement does not indicate if this was true in the case of the child.

The Australian Government takes seriously its responsibility to protect the Australian community from the risk of harm posed by foreign nationals who engage in criminal conduct, she wrote.

The Department approaches visa cancellation of minors with a high degree of caution and consultation, to ensure all relevant factors are considered and the approach is consistent with community and Government expectations.

The statement also says the department complies with legal obligations, including those under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

It concluded: Non-citizens who do not hold a valid visa will be liable for detention and removal from Australia.

Dutton has not responded to a request for an interview.

More than 2000 citizens have been sent back to New Zealand, although the wave of deportations has slowed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Australian government signalled in 2018 that it was prepared to change the law to start deporting under-18s.

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Dutton's comments only serve to trash his own reputation.

That presented New Zealand with a further headache. Legally, minors cannot not be subject to an adult supervision regime for deportees established in 2015.

Officials, led by Oranga Tamariki, began working on an inter departmental plan to handle this new problem. Its not clear if that was ever finalised.

Stuff knows of two cases where the Australian government has attempted to send back a minor, but failed because the intervention of the courts.

The Foreign and Justice Ministers Winston Peters and Andrew Little publicly took up the case of a 17-year-old, with Little appearing on an Australian current affairs show.

The decision was later overturned by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the body that hears visa cancellation appeals.

Leading immigration lawyer Greg Barns represented the 17-year-old, who was removed from Sydney and placed in a Melbourne adult detention centre. Hed lived in Australia since the age of ten.

To deport an unaccompanied child is just inhumane and a clear breach of Australias international obligations including under the convention of the rights of child, he said.

No child should ever be deported. And the fact that the minister described that child as part of taking the rubbish out, just shows you how bereft of any humanity this current government is.

New Zealand would be right to see Australia as a human rights pariah on this issue.

Police refused to answer questions from Stuff on the deportation and would only say, in a written statement: All deportees are entitled to privacy and as such we are unable to provide any information.

Mahuta declined a request for an interview, citing privacy reasons. In a statement, she said: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade was providing consular assistance to a minor in detention in Australia, which included making the appropriate arrangements for the care of a minor.

For privacy reasons no further information will be provided.


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