Interpreting the detention and deportation of New Zealanders

E. Stanley

Institute of Criminology, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand,

This paper considers the situation of New Zealanders detained in, and deported from, Australia. In recent years, changed laws and policies have led to increasing numbers of New Zealanders brought to the attention of immigration authorities on the grounds of criminality or ‘bad character’. Hundreds have subsequently been detained and deported for serious as well as minor matters – shoplifting, motoring offences, associations with gang members, among other ‘offences’. Quite a few had been resident in Australia for many decades, sometimes since early childhood. This paper focuses on the contradictory political and media discourses that have emerged around these matters during 2016. In particular, it considers the ways in which NZ commentators have sought to support Australian detention-deportation activities more generally (for example, by not condemning practices through UN reporting mechanisms) while also developing arguments that New Zealanders should be exempt on account of a shared ANZAC history. This contradictory discourse, among others, usefully demonstrates how human rights standards and treatments are brushed over, negotiated and performed in a contemporary international climate of criminalization. It also illustrates tensions that could be exploited to secure rights protections in the future.


Elizabeth Stanley is a Reader in Criminology and Rutherford Discovery Fellow at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She researches on issues of state crime, human rights and social justice.


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