Australia's deportation of Kiwis has been "corrosive" to the trans-Tasman relationship, New Zealand's top diplomat in Australia has told a parliamentary committee in Canberra.
Appearing at the Australian government's Joint Standing Committee on Migration today, New Zealand High Commissioner Chris Seed criticised the legal processes around deporting long-term residents on character grounds and without convictions as "less than robust".
"We don't have an issue with deportation," he said.
"What we have a problem with is where they're deporting people who have effectively lived here for long periods of time ... who came here when they were two, who are essentially products of the Australian community or whose family are here."
He said tighter rules introduced in 2014 - combined with laws stripping New Zealanders of automatic residence status from 2001 - had seen the rate of Kiwis being deported increase seven-fold in three years, to the point they were being "disproportionately" penalised compared to other nationalities.
"Many of those consequences don't look like good public policy outcomes to us and they're having a corrosive impact on the otherwise strong relationship," he said.
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Ministers Winston Peters backed Mr Seed.
"We can't gild the lily here. It's a fact. Since 2001-2002, when our special relationship changed ... Things haven't been what they ought to be. But we're working positively on trying to improve that," he said.
New Zealand's coalition government has been vocal in its criticism of the deportations, with its justice minister, Andrew Little, and Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton trading barbs over the matter earlier in the year.
Mr Dutton said Australia did a lot of heavy lifting for New Zealand in terms of regional security and stopping boats, and has defended the sovereign right to deport people.