18 October 2015 (theguardian.com)
A quadriplegic New Zealander has reportedly been deported after 36 years in Australia under a controversial new policy to remove convicted criminals from the country.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the 56-year-old, named only as Paul, was flown to Auckland three weeks ago with a voucher for a week’s accommodation.
The man, who uses a wheelchair, said he had no friends or family in New Zealand, having spent most of his life in Australia. Paul said he had been jailed in 2012 for 13 months for self-medicating with controlled painkillers.
“I feel like I’ve just been dumped – away from all my family and friends,” he said. “I have nothing here.”
New Zealand has protested against Australia’s policy of cancelling the visa and deporting anyone who has been sentenced to more than 12 months in prison. An average of one New Zealander a day is being deported under the policy.
John Key, New Zealand’s prime minister, has raised the issue with Malcolm Turnbull, his Australian counterpart, in Turnbull’s trip across the Tasman – his first overseas engagement as prime minister.
“All I’ve tried to implore upon the prime minister is where someone is not of the highest risk, where someone has a long-term community of interest in Australia, I think in the spirit of mateship, there should be some compassion shown,” Key said.
Turnbull has said there will be no special treatment for New Zealanders but has promised to speed up the appeals process for Kiwis held in Australian detention. “We do understand the problem; we do understand how it’s perceived in New Zealand and John has been very forthright in our discussions,” the Australian prime minister said.
A New Zealand MP is trying to gain access to a detention centre on Christmas Island where Kiwis are being held. About 200 New Zealanders are being held in seven detention centres across Australia.
The MP, Labour’s Kelvin Davis, said about 40 New Zealanders were being held at the Christmas Island facility, with some telling him of self-harm and abuse among fellow detainees.
“To me that’s just absolutely inhumane to separate people that far from their families, their loved ones, their legal advice,” Davis told Australian Associated Press.
It’s thought that about 1,000 New Zealanders are in line to be deported under Australia’s new policy.
[The Guardian source]