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.
New Zealand and Australian flags.
"I want to do more", Tim Fairhall, a 39-year-old man who has Down syndrome, told MPs as he appealed for access to his KiwiSaver funds before age 65.
He spoke to the Finance and Expenditure Select Committee about his goal to visit his brother and friend overseas while he was still in good health.
"I won't live as long as most people," Mr Fairhall said. "It doesn't matter how long you live, as long as you make the most of your life."
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Tim Fairhall had been working at Countdown for 14 years, and recently starred in a video made by the Retirement Commissioner's office to champion his case for early access to his KiwiSaver funds.
The money Mr Fairhall needs to travel with his mother is locked up in KiwiSaver until he turns 65, but Down syndrome means he is ageing faster than most.
He said his goal was to see his brother in Italy and his best friend in Canada.
"I have saved my money to do that.
"I have done lots of cool things in my life so far, and I want to do more."
His mother, Joan Fairhall, said her son and other people with Down syndrome had their savings "trapped" if it was invested with KiwiSaver.
"I want you do consider whether the current legislation is unfair and indeed discriminatory, whether it kidnaps and holds on to, and uses the savings of people in this category, but there is just no mechanism for them to get it out and use it fairly for themselves."
Tim Fairhall and his mum argue the rules as they stand discriminate against people like him.
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She said previously, "If Tim survives till he's 65, and it's quite likely he will, he'll be a really old man then - the equivalent of about 90".
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Tim Fairhall wants to use his savings to travel while he is still in good health.
Source: 1 NEWS