Bay News column

Columns
Thursday, November 26, 2015

Last week Parliament went into urgency for the passing of legislation to monitor and supervise returning offenders. The number one concern for National has been, and will continue to be, the safety of the New Zealand public.

The new law ensures that returned offenders will be subject to parole-like conditions as if they had served a similar prison sentence in New Zealand. It will automatically apply to any returning offender who was sentenced to more than one year in prison and is returning to New Zealand within six months of their release from custody.

Since learning of Australia’s change in immigration policy nine months ago, the Government has been working to ensure that returning offenders will receive the appropriate oversight needed to ensure public safety.

In July, a register of deported offenders was established for use by New Zealand government agencies. This means that we have a clear idea of who is arriving back in the country and when.

In September, a formal information sharing arrangement was signed between New Zealand and Australia, which ensures that we receive up to six months advance notice of potential upcoming deportations as well as information about the deportee. The information, such as conviction records and case history, will help us assess the risk profile of each person. Photographs and fingerprints mean that we can better monitor these people once they arrive back in the country.

Australia has the right to make their own laws and deport New Zealand citizens if they see fit. While we are continuing to raise our concerns with their policy at the highest level, we have to face the reality that these people are returning and we need measures in place to ensure the safety of the New Zealand public.