The Australian government hopes that a row over people from New Zealand who commit an offence being sent back to the country will be diffused by a new information sharing arrangement.
Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has approved the agreement with New Zealand Justice Minister Amy Adams and Police Minister Michael Woodhouse and signed by relevant officials in both countries.
“A key issue when dealing with offenders being deported back to New Zealand has been obtaining reliable information about the individual and their current risk profile. This information gap has been one of the barriers to ensuring that New Zealand agencies can effectively manage the risk of offenders deported back to New Zealand,” said Adams. “By having a fuller picture about the backgrounds of offenders who return to New Zealand, we will be in a stronger position to monitor and supervise those who pose a serious threat to the public.”
Woodhouse explained that the arrangement will provide New Zealand agencies with up to six months advance notice of potential upcoming deportations, and provide for the sharing of information prior to arrival that will help New Zealand better manage the return of New Zealand citizens, such as criminal conviction records, summary of offences, case history, gang connections, fingerprints and photographs.
“It’s a significant improvement on what Australia has been able to provide New Zealand and gives police the information they need to make more informed assessments about the risks posed by deported offenders,” said Woodhouse.
There has been a lot of criticism around the scope of the deportation policy in Australia and it is hoped that the Trans Tasmanian agreement will make it less of an issue.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Customs and Australian Border Force have signed a Statement of Intent to support supply chain security and make trade easier between the two countries.
Both agencies have agreed to work towards a Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA), so trans-Tasman traders that meet the required standards can sign up to trusted trader programmes and enjoy border clearance privileges. This also provides border agencies greater end to end assurance over the imports and exports.
New Zealand Customs Comptroller Carolyn Tremain said that both agencies already share a close partnership, and the MRA will underpin the trusted trader programmes in the two countries.
“We’ve been working with Australia as they develop a trusted trader programme, and there should be a close alignment between their programme and our own Secure Export Scheme. Joint work will start soon on an MRA. Recognition will benefit trusted trans-Tasman traders by reducing clearance times and making customs processes easier,
Tremain added that the work on the MRA is expected to conclude by June next year, and it will come into effect shortly after. To conclude an MRA, New Zealand and Australia will need to undertake a comparison of each other’s programme.