Winston Peters hits back at Australian Minister over deportation row

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 Mar 2020, 3:03PM
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has upped the ante in the trans-Tasman war of words. (Photo / NZ Herald)
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has upped the ante in the trans-Tasman war of words. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Winston Peters hits back at Australian Minister over deportation row

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 4 Mar 2020, 3:03PM

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has upped the ante in the trans-Tasman war, taking a verbal swing at an Australian minister.

"We have been friends for centuries," Peters told the ABC, "don't ruin it for some political opportunism which originates in Australia, not New Zealand."

Peters was calling out Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who, earlier this week, took aim at Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern over her criticism of Australia's deportation policy.

"New Zealand is obviously in the election cycle at the moment – it's regrettable that she [Ardern] made her comments but that would have played well domestically for her," Dutton said.

His comments came after Ardern criticised Dutton's government's policies on deportation last week.

She said Australia was well within its rights to deport individuals who break its laws but it is too often deporting people with no connection to New Zealand.

"We have a simple request. Send back Kiwis, genuine Kiwis - do not deport your people and your problems," Ardern said.

While she was in Sydney last week, Ardern lobbied Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to change the deportation rules, but he said Australia would be making no changes.

Speaking to the ABC, Peters said the policy was not fair.

"Of all countries, Australia should understand the unfairness of deportation for criminal reasons," he said.

"You've sent thousands back to New Zealand and we have sent a handful of people back to you."

Peters said it was time the "politicisation" of the issue is put aside but then suggested it was Dutton who politicised the issue in the first place.

"Let's not guild the lily, let's be honest with each other because Australians and New Zealanders have enormous respect for a lot of reasons and we are both better than that."