Another trans-Tasman brawl has erupted over Australia’s controversial deportations policy after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton labelled criminals being sent to New Zealand as “trash”.
- Mr Dutton said Australia was “taking the trash out” by deporting criminals to New Zealand
- Those deported do not hold Australian citizenship
- Several New Zealand politicians hit back at Australia’s policy
The comments drew an angry political reaction in New Zealand, with Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta lashing out at Mr Dutton and New Zealand’s Opposition calling on the government to retaliate.
The latest controversy was sparked by a Channel Nine story from earlier this week, where the broadcaster was permitted to film and question handcuffed deportees as they were being led to a plane that would take them to New Zealand.
In the television report, Mr Dutton said the federal government was “taking the trash out” in order to keep Australia safe.
Those being deported have committed serious crimes and do not hold Australian citizenship.
But successive New Zealand governments have complained that many of those deported have no meaningful links to New Zealand or have spent the vast bulk of their lives in Australia.
The Home Affairs Minister’s comments during a Channel 9 report sparked the controversy with New Zealand.(ABC News: Matt Roberts
Today, several New Zealand politicians have responded angrily to Mr Dutton’s comments, with Foreign Minister Mahuta saying they “only served to trash his own reputation”.
“I think (Australia) should reflect on how they are portraying the transfer of people back to New Zealand. Dutton’s comments reflect his own personality.”
New Zealand’s Opposition Leader Judith Collins said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern should consider retaliating by sending Australian criminals back home.
“We cannot be the dumping ground for everything wrong that’s happened in Australia with people and criminal behaviour,” she said.
“They need to have some of them come back to them.”
New Zealand’s Chris Hipkins does not mince his words while responding to Mr Dutton’s comments.
The controversy also sparked an extraordinary exchange with New Zealand minister Chris Hipkins, who said Australia was “exporting its garbage to New Zealand”.
“These people, their criminal offending has been in Australia. For all intents and purposes, many have lived the vast bulk of their lives in Australia.”
But he was immediately pressed about why he was also calling the criminals “garbage”, leading him to backtrack less than 30 seconds later.
“Probably should have chosen a better frame of words,” he said.
“I didn’t mean to suggest that, that is Dutton’s way of describing it.”
Jacinda Ardern has accused Australia of exporting its problems to New Zealand.(AP: Mark Baker, file
A spokesperson for Mr Dutton referred the ABC to comments the Home Minister made earlier today defending Australia’s deportation policy.
Mr Dutton told radio station 2GB the deportations sent a “real message” to people in Australia on visas that they need to be law-abiding.
“I don’t care whether you’re a Kiwi, a Brit, whatever nationality you might be if you’re out on a Friday night, king-hitting people or murdering your girlfriend’s parents, well what else could you expect?
“We have ramped up dramatically the numbers of deportations and I think there has been a behavioural change within some of those groups.”
However, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took a much more conciliatory line and said she would not be drawn into a “tit for tat” with Australia.
“Everyone will be aware of our view, it’s strongly held. As we’ve always said, though, the Australian government is within its rights to do what they’re doing,” Ms Ardern said.
“It just so happens we strongly disagree with it.”
“Despite the fact we’ve held that view and voiced it strongly, it doesn’t change the fact we have a very strong relationship.”