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PM: Ongoing talks over Kiwis in detention

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/01/2017
© Hagen Hopkins/ Getty Images

New Zealand is having ongoing discussions with Australia about Kiwis left languishing in immigration detention centres while appealing visa cancellations, Prime Minister Bill English says.

A new report by Australia's Commonwealth Ombudsman has criticised the way non-citizens, including New Zealanders, were treated in detention centres before being deported.

The report investigated an immigration policy that gives Australia's federal government the power to cancel the visas of people convicted of serious crimes.

Between January 1, 2014 and February 29, 2016 Australian authorities cancelled 1219 non-citizen visas, including those of 697 New Zealanders.

Most visas were cancelled after the person served their prison sentence, meaning they were forced into immigration detention centres through the appeal process.

Mr English is currently in Europe on his first overseas trip as prime minister and hasn't seen the report, but says there are ongoing discussions between Australia and New Zealand.

"There has been a lot of progress made in the last couple of years, particularly with Prime Minister Turnbull, making sure the Australian system pays attention to it. Pipelines are better than it was. But, look, there will be ongoing issues," he told reporters.

The report highlights the plight of several New Zealanders put into immigration detention centres pending review of their visas.

One Queensland man moved to a detention centre in Western Australia had not seen his family for 14 months.

The report made a series of recommendations including suggesting the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs consider whether it's appropriate to continue detaining a person in an immigration detention centre.

"Particular consideration might be given to release on an appropriate visa, in light of the fact that permanent residents whose families are in Australia are unlikely to abscond," it says.

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