The first of many special charter flights is due to land in Auckland today.
Just in the nick of time, the New Zealand government rushed through special legislation to handle the first of many returning high risk offenders that are being deported from Australia. The legislation wasn’t due until the end of 2015 but was pushed through under urgency yesterday after Kiwi detainees rioted on Christmas Island last week.
The deportees getting a free trip home are New Zealand citizens living in Australia, made persona non grata due to their criminal activities. They include high risk offenders such as murders, child sex offenders, rapists and gang members.
A group of 12 offenders were the first to touch down, and immediately 8 of them were placed under supervision orders authorised by the new legislation (rushed through yesterday, despite the government knowing about the deportations a year ago). Another 10, will follow from the Christmas Island detention centre in a few days.
The new Returned Offenders (Management and Information) Act, which was passed through Parliament under urgency on Wednesday, will be used to monitor the offenders using a “parole-like” system.
Kiwis caught napping
There has been a push to improve monitoring of criminals deported from Australia to New Zealand since the murder of Christchurch schoolgirl Jade Bayliss in November 2011. The 13-year-old was strangled in her home by her mother’s ex-boyfriend Jeremy McLaughlin – a man who had spent time in jail for the killing of a teenager in Australia before he was deported in 2001.
Convicted murderer Michael Heron was deported from Australia late last year and is understood to be living in Christchurch.
Because the New Zealand government dragged its heals for the last year, criminals who returned to New Zealand before today are exempt from the monitoring provisions and are under no obligations to co-operate with authorities.
18 November 2015: Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman David Shearer said the Government could only hope the new regime was in place in time for the arrival of “Con Air”.
“That is a disgrace, when this Government knew last year on December 14 that Australia had changed its laws.
“Here we are, with two weeks of Parliament to go and we are ramming through a piece of legislation that should have been written months ago.” source
This new monitoring regime for the ‘Con Air Crims’ will “strike a careful balance between offenders’ rights and public safety“.
Police and corrections officers met the offenders at the airport today and put them through, what is for New Zealand, a “rigorous processing and induction process”:
They will have to tell police their identification details including name, date of birth and address, and give their fingerprints. DNA of the offenders will also be required and if it isn’t taken at the airport, police will issue a compulsion notice to get the DNA later. These are the same obligations faced by people who have committed similar crimes in New Zealand. source
New Zealand still doesn’t have a sex offenders register.
Up to 150 people could require monitoring and will vie for the Dept. of Corrections’ attention with the 2,000 releases from Zealand’s prison system every year. Their monitoring and supervision is likely to cost the New Zealand tax payers $7.4 million dollars, although this a conservative estimate of prisoners based on prisoners already in Australia’s correction’s system. There could potentially thousands more with spent/no convictions deported for failing Australia’s strict new character test.
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