In 2014 a conservative prime minister, Tony Abbott, tightened deportation rules. Any foreigner sentenced to a year in jail now fails a “character test” and has to leave the country. Kiwis may live and work freely in Australia. Since about 650,000 do so, the rule hits them the hardest. Since the law was changed, at least 1,200 New Zealanders have been cast back across the Tasman Sea. Oz Kiwi, an advocacy group, estimates that around 170 New Zealanders are currently in detention centres awaiting deportation, more than any other nationality.
… Australia makes no concessions for those who came as children but never changed their passports. Neither does it for juvenile offenders, or petty criminals with short sentences that cumulatively add up to 12 months, even if those were suspended. Historic crimes were once ignored, but the law now works retroactively, counting ancient infringements committed overseas as well as recent ones in Australia.
Some prior offenders are stopped at airports.
… New Zealanders of Maori or Pacific Islander descent are disproportionately affected by the changes, because they are more likely than average to have convictions. About 60% of New Zealanders who have been deported from Australia since 2014 are “brown”, as Joanne Cox of Oz Kiwi puts it. Citizenship is reserved mostly for the skilled and relatively wealthy: only about 8.4% of New Zealanders who arrived in Australia in the decade after 2001 got passports. The rate for Maoris was below 3%.
Paul Hamer, a researcher at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand’s capital, suggests that Australia’s souring mood has been fed by “dissatisfaction” at New Zealand’s openness to Pacific migration. It threw open its doors to the region at a time when Australia still banned all but white immigrants (today it sets annual quotas for newcomers from the Pacific). People of Pacific Islander descent are 8% of New Zealand’s population. Politicians in Canberra, the Australian capital, have complained for decades that such migrants exploit a “backdoor” to Australia.
… conservative coalition government under Malcolm Turnbull is so concerned about border control that last year it rebuffed New Zealand’s offer to resettle asylum-seekers from detention centres run for Australia’s benefit in Nauru, a tiny Pacific island state, and Manus island, part of Papua New Guinea. Almost 1,600 “boat people” remain in the controversial camps, with no idea of when they might be released. (“Australia is kicking Kiwis out, and New Zealand is unhappy about it”)
Does Australia do anything about non-indigenous immigration, say from China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam? Or, is enforcement just against the Pacific Islander Maori, who are, face it, indigenous to the region, to New Zealand? What about Muslim, South-Asian migrants?