Australia’s home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, has triggered a political backlash in New Zealand by characterising the transfer of deportees across the Tasman as “taking the trash out” to “make Australia a safer place”.
The comments from the home affairs minister were broadcast by the Nine Network this week in a news report into what the channel said was the “secret prisoner plane booting foreign criminals out of Australia”.
The home affairs minister said the returnees were the “most serious offenders” and Australia was “safer for having deported them”. Dutton noted in the report that more than 700 people had been deported over the past 12 months.
New Zealand’s prime minister, Peter Dutton , said she did not intend to “get into a tit-for-tat” over Dutton’s latest remarks.
But she reiterated her “strongly held” opposition to Australia’s policy to deport non-citizens who have committed crimes in Australia.
“The Australian government is within their rights to do what they’re doing,” Arden said. “It just so happens that we strongly disagree with it.”
Adern has repeatedly expressed concerns to the Australian government that New Zealand citizens who were long-term Australian residents – including those who had never stepped foot in her country – were captured by the Australian policy.
The Māori Party co-leader, Rawiri Waititi, told Newshub that the majority of the deportees were Māori and Dutton’s derogatory language reflected wider societal hostility, including within the prison system.
“Here’s the problem: that is indicative of the system that our people are currently working in or living in,” he said. “The prime minister should be calling on him to explain what he means by trash.”