Kelvin Davis has been performing sterling work on the issue concerning New Zealand detainees in Australia.
The Guardian has reported on his visit to Christmas Island to talk to some of them. He stated that conditions were that bad there was talk of the prisoners rioting.
He recently talked about his experience. From Stuff:
We were able to hear about all the alleged human rights violations and assess their health and well-being.
They’re angry, hungry, traumatised and so desperate to return to their homes in Australia they are even considering rioting.
These New Zealand born Australians are not murderers or rapists. They have served their time yet Australian authorities are treating them as though they are a terrorism threat.
The stories of the eight detainees we met were all consistent. They hate the isolation, the lack of family contact, and the lack of contact with legal support.
None of them want to take up John Key’s proposal to return to New Zealand to settle their visa applications. They think it’s a trick designed to prevent them from returning to their families and jobs in Australia.”
John Key labelled the visit a political stunt. This is a funny claim. As reported by Anthony Robins I thought Key’s initial claim that he had given the Australians a blunt message was the political stunt. Because after the meeting with Turnbull it appears that nothing has been achieved. Sure there was a suggestion that the Australian Minister of Immigration would go easy on Kiwis when considering their appeals but this was always going to happen. The policy is a dog whistle anti immigrant policy so of course Kiwis would be treated less severe than others.
And the Australian Liberal Party was never going to move on the issue. It is the party that won an election by fraudulently claiming that boat refugees were throwing their kids overboard to gain advantage.
The policy is already producing cruel and absurd cases. Again from the Guardian:
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.”
Essentially the politics of the situation is that the Australian Government is totally indifferent to doing anything. There is far too much political gain at stake. It is a tribute to the hold that National has on the local media that there has been reporting of a “blunt message” and “the aussies will go easy on us”. Of course this will be totally impossible to prove, at least in the short term.
But the policy is cruel. Why should people who have spent decades living in Australia serve a prison sentence, be released but then be shipped off to an island thousands of kilometres away from the Australian mainland.
Well done Kelvin for standing up for ordinary Kiwis who through various life disasters find themselves paying twice the penalty the law requires Australians to.