30 September 2015
New Zealand PM John Key's 'blunt' message for Australia
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has a 'blunt' message for Australia.
Wellington: Prime Minister John Key says he's been "pretty blunt" with the Australian government over the way New Zealanders are being detained and deported.
Mr Key met Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in New York on Tuesday to raise the issue that's causing increasing concern across the Tasman.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop at the United Nations.
Nearly 200 New Zealanders are being held in detention centres in Australia facing deportation under new immigration laws that mean anyone who isn't a citizen and who has served a sentence of 12 months or more can be sent home.
It's been reported that nearly 100 have already been sent back to New Zealand.
"I had a chat with Julie about it and I was pretty blunt,"
Mr Key told Radio New Zealand on Wednesday.
New Zealand-born Junior Togatuki died in Australian custody.
"I said there's a special relationship between New Zealand and Australia and you challenge that, to a degree, when you see New Zealanders being treated in this way."
Mr Key said some of them had spent almost their entire lives in Australia, having gone there when they were very young.
"We also deport people, but not in the way the Australians are talking about," he said.
Mr Key says it will be one of the most important issues he raises with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull when they meet.
A date for that meeting is still to be set.
The meeting with Ms Bishop took place amid growing calls for the New Zealand government to take action, following the death two weeks ago of Kiwi-born Junior Togatuki in a high-security detention centre while he was awaiting deportation.
The 23-year-old, who left New Zealand at age four, had served his sentence for robbery and assault, and authorities say he took his own life.
Ms Bishop has provided assurances to New Zealand that a full inquiry is under way into Togatuki's death.