The Chairman of the National Maori Authority, Matthew Tukaki, has today written to the President of the Australian Rights Commission, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM calling for an urgent investigation and inquiry into the treatment of New Zealand citizens detained in Australia and potential human rights breaches under international conventions Australia is a signatory to.
“Today I have asked the Australian Human Rights Commission to urgently begin an Inquiry and investigation into the plight of what are known as 501’s – New Zealand citizens who are currently incarcerated in Australian facilities awaiting deportation. I am deeply concerned about the treatment of detainees at the offshore processing centre of Christmas Island and believe that those detained have had their basic Human Rights violated under the relevant conventions that Australia is a signatory to. Further i would like the Commission to investigate whether the section of the Immigration Act violates any or all Human Rights Conventions that Australia is a signatory to in respect of Section 501 and also, and in particular, Section 116.” Tukaki said
“Section 116 of the Act provides for a number of grounds in which a person’s visa can be cancelled, including: the decision to grant the visa was based, wholly or partly, on a particular fact or circumstance that either did not exist or is no longer the case or that no longer exists (paragraphs 116(1)(a) and (b)). I believe these grounds to be discriminatory and at risk of failing the basic convention of fairness as a single person, in this case the Minister, has the ability to unilaterally cancel a visa. In many cases those who have been detained, previously and currently, have grown up in Australia and are the product of an Australian environment. They have lives, jobs, family and children in Australia with many having been resident since birth. In other cases there are those whose convictions are relatively minor and others who have simply failed the test applied against Section 116. In addition to this is the often arbitrary nature of the appeals process. Twenty-one New Zealand citizens had their visa cancellation order varied or set aside in the 2019-20 fiscal year. That number rose to 38 in the 2020-21 year. Those figures account for about 25 per cent of all cases decided on by the tribunal each fiscal year. The Immigration Department has also accepted that this does not include figures of other avenues of appeal. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations on 10 December 1948, sets out the basic rights and freedoms that apply to all people. Drafted in the aftermath of World War Two, it has become a foundation document that has inspired many legally-binding international human rights laws.”
“I am deeply, deeply concerned, as are many others, about the treatment of these New Zealand citizens, who for all intense purposes are permanent residents of Australia – and I have also written to the UN Human Rights body to also inquire into what is happening as part of the regular review of Australia’s performance against the treaties, declarations and conventions they are signed up to” Tukaki said
“I have been involved in this Kaupapa for a very long time. Overnight the laws in Australia were being amended that might go even further in terms of the power of the Government. I get that many Australians are very clear about those who commit crimes – as am i. Obviously I would prefer they don’t and understand the privilege of being manuhiri on someone else’s land – however I point out many of these people are the product of Australia; for all intense purposes they are Australian and simply deporting the problem away if not going to change things -that’s why there needs to be a circuit breaker” Tukaki said