Deportation from Australia: Time to bring in reciprocal legislation, Fox says

So much for the ANZAC spirit.

On the issue of New Zealanders who’re being detained, awaiting deportation from Australia after committing a crime, Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox told TV One’s Q+A programme, “So is it time to bring in reciprocal legislation and say, ‘Well, okay, long gone the Anzac Spirit.’

Marama Fox told the programme, ‘our government need to be stronger around the situation’. 

GREG    Okay, what should John Key be saying not to Julie Bishop but to Malcolm Turnbull? What should he be doing, in your opinion?

MARAMA   I think that he should be bringing up our Anzac history, our closer relationship and not about economics. I listened to him speak and say the first thing we’re going to worry about is our economic trade relationship, when actually, these are people’s lives, and I think they are more important. ‘

Marama Fox told Q+A, ‘they weren’t criminalised in New Zealand; they were criminalised in Australia. And because of the new laws, they’re going to throw them on a plane and send them home. ‘But wait, we might have already done our time, and now we’re sitting in a detention centre.’ 

On the issue of whether musician Chris Brown should be allowed into New Zealand, Marama Fox said, ‘..what I’m very clear about is that a celebrity, no matter who you are, should be subject to the same rules as everybody else.’

GREG    Tariana Turia has come out in support. Your predecessor has come out in support of him. What do you think about that?

MARAMA ‘Tariana Turia has some valid points in what she’s said about transforming your lives, turning your lives around. Because that’s essentially what Whanau Ora is. But I’m saying that we’ve got examples of people who can do that in our own country. We don’t need to be looking to an American rap star to do that.’

RAW DATA: The Nation transcript: Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox 

Watch the interview here

GREG Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox has been in contact with some of the New Zealanders held in detention centres. She joins me now. Kia ora, Marama. What are they saying? What are they telling you?

 

MARAMA Look, there are all sorts of hideous things going on. They say, ‘I’d rather be in prison than be in these detention centres.’ They’re starting to experience mental health issues. One of these young men, who has lived his entire life in Australia, been there since he was 9, knows nothing else, really, he said to his mother on the phone that he thinks the only way out of here is in a body bag. That’s how serious this is, and it’s not good enough. It’s an absolutely appalling position that the Australian government have taken. They’re locking these guys up after having finished their sentences. And one of them, if he’d done his parole, the judge said, ‘This is the best guy I’ve ever seen. Don’t know why you’re here. Get your life back on track, mate.’ He’s sitting in a detention centre waiting to be deported. He’s got a baby at home, a mortgage, you know, he’d be working as soon as he walked out the door. But here he is, sitting there, wasting away, doing nothing.

 

GREG How many scenarios like that are you talking about?

 

MARAMA There are 180 Kiwis who are locked--

 

GREG This is the thing – we’re not talking 50,000 people. You would think individually, it would be such a small number it can be addressed on an individual basis.

 

MARAMA Let’s do something about it. Look, Peina Clarke’s family have said, ‘If you’re going to deport him, deport him. But don’t have him sitting, rotting in a detention centre that is worse than a jail without any idea of when he might get released, when he might be put on a plane. Just deport him now. We’re ready to accept him and help him move on with his life.’ But here he is, locked in a prison with no idea, and that’s worse. At least if you have a prison sentence, you can count down the days to the end of that.

 

GREG Well, you’ve already done your prison sentence.

 

MARAMA Exactly.

 

GREG John Key said he’s had a blunt conversation with Julie Bishop in New York. What needs to happen now? Have we done enough?

 

MARAMA No, absolutely we have not done enough. And I’ve resisted the call to have reciprocal legislation around also the other things that they’ve done. This is about detention centres, but the 2001 law changes have really put Kiwis living in Australia under the gun, and some of those people are now experiencing— We’ve got a highest rate of suicide in Queensland for Maori. It’s ridiculous. So is it time to bring in reciprocal legislation and say, ‘Well, okay, long gone the Anzac Spirit.’

 

GREG The attitude in Australia appears to be, ‘If you don’t like it here, you don’t like not having access to social services, this, that and the other, you can go home.’ That appears to have been a fairly long-held attitude.

 

MARAMA Yeah, and there’s a stereotype that’s being perpetuated here. Last week, on Channel Nine, they reported they’re ‘Kiwi killers’ – these are the people who are in detention centres. But in reality, we’ve got Kiwis who’ve lived in Australia their entire lives – some of them since they were 1 year old. They weren’t criminalised in New Zealand; they were criminalised in Australia. And because of the new laws, they’re going to throw them on a plane and send them home. ‘But wait, we might have already done our time, and now we’re sitting in a detention centre.’

 

GREG Let’s talk about the other side of the coin. Okay, we all accept what’s happening over there. We’re also saying we’re going to bring people back to New Zealand who weren’t born here, don’t have family here, don’t have support here, don’t have jobs here, do have a criminal record – whatever extent that may be – it’s going cost us potentially quite dearly, isn’t it?

 

MARAMA Exactly. And this is exactly why our government need to be stronger around the situation. The reason these families are sitting in here is because we used to have a close relationship with Australia. We could go to Australia back and forth without a passport. Now we have to have a passport. But they still have lax immigration rules about it, except Australia have now tightened that up, and our Kiwi citizens who are sitting in Australia are being treated as second-class citizens. This is breaching their human rights, and it is not good enough.

 

GREG Okay, what should John Key be saying not to Julie Bishop but to Malcolm Turnbull? What should he be doing, in your opinion?

 

MARAMA I think that he should be bringing up our Anzac history, our closer relationship and not about economics. I listened to him speak and say the first thing we’re going to worry about is our economic trade relationship, when actually, these are people’s lives, and I think they are more important. We need to be talking about the real issues that are hampering Kiwis living in Australia right now and get away from the stereotype, because then these guys who are sitting in prison have worked their entire lives. They’ve not been on a benefit. If they were released today, they’d be going back into a job. Some of them have only done eight months. That’s not a year. So they’ve done eight months of their sentence; they’ve had four months’ parole; they could walk back into a job tomorrow, but they’re being held in a detention centre, and they’re going to be shipped here.

 

GREG There is going to be the attitude, though, in Australia, particularly amongst Australians, that, ‘They weren’t born here; they’re not really Australians in our point of view; they’re bad buggers; good riddance; send them home.’ That’s going to be the overall attitude with a lot middle Australia, I suspect.

 

MARAMA Yeah, that’s right. And that’s that is the stereotype that is being perpetuated over there, and it’s not correct. I mean, these guys have paid taxpayer dollars in Australia but are not going to be given the same rights as other taxpayers in Australia, and they’re going to be shipped on a plane back to New Zealand, when all of their family are there. One of these young men has a mother living in Perth, who has terminal cancer. They have mortgages, they have children, they have Australian wives, and yet nobody’s taking any of that into consideration. They’ve just drawn a line and said, ‘That’s it.’

 

GREG Okay, let’s talk about Chris Brown. He’s been in the news an awful lot this week, and, in my opinion, getting an awful lot of support, which you wouldn’t have thought he was going to get. What do you make of people like Merepeka Raukawa-Tait who has come out and said he’s done his time, he should be given a second chance? What do you make of that?

 

MARAMA Well, I think we’ve given Chris Brown far too much air time, actually. Because we’ve just talked about Kiwis rotting in jails over there in detention centres, and yet this guy who is a celebrity is trying to come into New Zealand. Now remember, when he did his crime--

 

GREG Crimes. Plural. There was a number. I’ve just looked up his rap sheet, and the most recent one is February this year.

 

MARAMA That’s right. So he’s continued to assault people, and he is at the top of his game. He’s living in a world where he’s not hampered by poverty, where he’s not hampered by any situation that’s going to keep him oppressed. He is at the top of his game. Why should he be treated any different to any other person trying to come into New Zealand because of his celebrity? I don’t think that that’s right. If he gets in, he gets in on his merits like anybody else. If he has a message to share, is he here on a speaking tour? Is he going to do that?

 

GREG No, he’s here to make money. Let’s not be cloudy about this. A lot of people have come out and said he should invest in this, he should-- He’s here to make money and then go home.

 

MARAMA That’s right.

 

GREG Tariana Turia has come out in support. Your predecessor has come out in support of him. What do you think about that?

 

MARAMA Tariana Turia has some valid points in what she’s said about transforming your lives, turning your lives around. Because that’s essentially what Whanau Ora is. But I’m saying that we’ve got examples of people who can do that in our own country. We don’t need to be looking to an American rap star to do that. We have people here, home-grown role models that we should be concentrating on.

 

GREG Is there an element of – because we’ve had Ozzy Osbourne, Eminem, Tommy Lee – a number of white performers who’ve done similar things in their past – they’ve been allowed in here. Is there an element of racism in this at all?

 

MARAMA Oh, I have no doubt that’s also affecting this situation. But what I’m very clear about is that a celebrity, no matter who you are, should be subject to the same rules as everybody else. Just because you’re a celebrity or a politician or anybody who has a name or a public profile, does not give you an automatic pass card to come into our country. You should be subject to the rules just like anybody else.

 

GREG Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox, thank you for your time.

 

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