The 'easy' solution to Kiwis in detention centres: 'Go home' - Jason Morrison

The AM Show 03/09/2018

One solution being put forward for New Zealanders locked up in Australian detention centres is to "go home".

The AM Show Australia correspondent Jason Morrison's call follows reports of fires and riots at an Australian detention facility. 

Chaos has broken out at the Yongah Hill Detention Centre in Western Australia, footage obtained by Newshub shows, following reports an Iranian detainee died after being refused mental health treatment. 

Those inside - including a number of New Zealanders - are reportedly fearing for their lives. But Mr Morrison says the "easy" solution for detainees is to leave, telling The AM Show on Monday they should simply "go home". 

"If you're in immigration detention, it's not because they just don't like you - it's because you've come to the attention of authorities and they believe you've breached your visa," he said. 

"It's very hard as a New Zealander to get in trouble in Australia to the point where Australia wants to kick you out. You're in there because the Australian government decided it does not want you here anymore."

Filipa Payne, a spokesperson for lobby group Iwi n Aus which helps Kiwis affected by migration law, claims people have been "locked in cages in a compound while their bunks are burning and the fires are going on right beside them".

Mr Morrison says it's a misconception that people are forced into jail-like circumstances. He said Australia's position on "just about everyone in those detention centres is 'if you don't like it, leave'".

However, Mr Morrison admits that some reports about what's going on inside the detention centres is worrying. He said he's been through a few of them, telling The AM Show the facilities are "more like prisons and they behave more like prisons". 

"But this is Australia," he adds, "and this is the way Australia has decided it wants to operate. It's a hell of a lot nicer than how other countries treat people."

Mr Morrison said he doesn't have "an enormous amount of sympathy for Kiwi detainees because I know how easy it is for them to get into Australia". 

"We have an open-door policy to each other and that's a good thing, but in order to get to the point of not being welcome anymore, you've really got to have hit a high mark," he said. 

Nevertheless, claims someone has killed themselves as a result of not being treated properly inside the detention centre is "tragic", he said, but he has no way of confirming if it's true because the Australian government has remained quiet. 

Often the reason why people are detained for long periods is because they're fighting the government in court to stay, he added. 

Mr Morrison said it gets complicated where people have children who are Australian but their parents are not, but have committed an offence that's deemed serious enough for them to be deported.  

Australia and New Zealand have clashed over the deportation of Kiwis living in Australia, with Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters saying in July that Australia isn't living up to the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade has expressed its concerns to Australia. 

Watch the full interview above.

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