NZ Justice Minister Andrew Little has come under fire from Australian ministers for his comments on Australian deportation policy. (Photo: ABC)
07 August 2018
Claire Trevett – Deputy political editor, NZ Herald
Justice Minister Andrew Little has met with Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton face to face after an angry war of words over the deportations policy but was unable to budge Australia’s stand.
Little has returned from a security conference in Indonesia after being evacuated from Lombok with Dutton following a major earthquake.
He and Dutton met on the side-lines of that conference to discuss recent exchanges on Australia’s policy of deporting New Zealand citizens on grounds of bad character or if they had been sentenced to more than a year in prison.
He said it was good to “clear the air”, although he had not managed to budge Australia’s stance.
“We met one on one so we could have a robust discussion. One of the things we both agreed on was that some of the language and expression that has been public on the issue probably hasn’t been helpful in trying to move the thing forward.
It was a good useful discussion. They are totally committed to the law, but equally they know there are going to more deportations, more New Zealanders are going to be concerned about what is going on so this issue won’t go away.”
He said he accepted the law was not going to change, but equally the New Zealand government had to be able to discharge his responsibility to New Zealand citizens to advocate on their behalf.
Given that, there needed to be a forum in which the two governments could discuss the issue in future.
Little would not say whether it was his language or Dutton’s which was least helpful.
In the lead up to the meeting, Little had been strongly critical of Dutton and the policy in the media, describing it as “venal” politics.
[Read the NZ Herald article].