9 December 2015 – Max Towle (Radio New Zealand)
Australia’s immigration minister Peter Dutton has ordered changes to a form to make it clear New Zealand detainees who leave the country voluntarily are still able to appeal.
The form, which is signed by immigration detainees who choose to leave Australia,was leaked to RNZ News on Monday.
It said: “If I have outstanding visa applications, requests or legal proceedings, I understand that if I choose not to withdraw them, consideration of my claims by the department or relevant review bodies (including the courts) may be discontinued once I am removed from Australia.”
Ms Adams yesterday sought a please explainfrom Mr Dutton. Last night, in a statement, Mr Dutton reiterated that no-one wanting to appeal from New Zealand would be disadvantaged.
“No individual returned to New Zealand is denied the right to continue appeals processing already underway in relation to the cancellation of their visa,” the statement said.
But to remove any doubt the wording of the form would be changed.
“I have instructed the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to clarify the wording in all material provided to individuals seeking voluntary removal.”
He said some New Zealanders had already won their appeals from home and returned to Australia.
“Processing a revocation application would only cease, if an individual chooses to withdraw their application.”
Assurances being honoured, says minister
Justice Minister Amy Adams said Mr Dutton’s statement should reassure New Zealanders that no detainees will have their appeals waived or dismissed by returning to this country.
Ms Adams told Morning Report the form had created confusion but did not involve anyone waiving their rights.
“My concern was, first of all, to make sure the Australians were doing what they said they would do and secondly to make sure New Zealanders were getting good clear information.
“I think the form did need to be changed – I made that clear to Mr Dutton as soon as I saw it – and last night he’s come out and confirmed he’ll change it.”
Ms Adams said it was a generic form for all nationalities, and did not reflect the special arrangement for New Zealanders negotiated by the prime minister .
She did not know how many New Zealanders had already made successful appeals but had no reason to doubt Mr Dutton’s assertion.
“So the system is working, there’s no doubt in my mind about that, in terms of the assurances given. Now we’re not talking about a long period of time since this has all been enacted in, so it won’t be a huge number.”
The forms had also said: “I understand that I will incur a debt for the cost of my removal from Australia.” But Mr Dutton’s office promised New Zealanders whose visas were revoked would not have to pay for their removal.