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'Torture and cruel and unusual punishment' - 200 Kiwis awaiting deportation from Oz

An Australian lawyer says Kiwis are being kept in detention centres  in conditions tantamount to 'torture'.

Prime Minister John Key says close to 200 New Zealanders are being kept in the infamous Christmas Island detention centre, awaiting their deportation back across the Tasman.

Under recently introduced law, anyone who has been jailed for two years or more can have their visa cancelled and be deported.

Many of them end up on Christmas Island while waiting to be kicked out, including increasing numbers of New Zealanders.

Greg Barns of the Australian Lawyers Alliance says the conditions on Christmas Island amount to "torture", and that people who may have spent their entire life in Australia but were born to Kiwi parents were being swept up in the rule change. 

"I think the NZ government needs to look at it this way - does it want its citizens treated in this way, that is sent off to a remote island, ripped away from families, sent into a position which effectively amounts to torture and cruel and unusual punishment, that is living on an island with no access to their lawyers , no access to their families and being in detention for long periods of time?" he says.

The prime minister has expressed his concern with low-level offenders with little link to New Zealand being deported. Source: 1 NEWS

"I think the NZ government ought to be very concerned about the treatment of its own citizens."

One of those who could be sent back is Duncan Poroa, who has been held at Christmas Island, having served eight years in prison for dealing ecstasy.

He was looking forward to release, but immigration officials moved in, took him to Villawood detention centre in Sydney before moving him 3000km to Christmas Island.

"We don't know... I don't know anything... my partner doesn't know anything," he told ONE News via phone.

"My partner is very stressed about it, we don't know anything, we're in limbo."

John Key thinks it "doesn't make sense" for low-level offenders with little link to this country to be deported.

He also questioned whether the threshold for deportation was being set in the right place.

"There are many people who are deported back to New Zealand who left New Zealand as a baby who may have no family here, no community of interest here," he told reporters.

New Zealanders are the second largest group to be sent to Australian immigration detention centres in the last year. Source: 1 NEWS