New Zealand Labour Party

Govt must seek urgent explanation after death in custody

The Government must seek an urgent explanation from the Australian Government about the treatment of New Zealand citizens being held in detention centres after the tragic death in custody of Junior Togatuki, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“For the past week we have heard harrowing stories of New Zealand-born Australian residents – who have served their time – being shipped off in the dead of night to detention centres hundreds of miles away from their families. 

“These people being are denied basic rights like access to medical care and lawyers. Their families cannot contact them and they have no idea how long they are going to be there for.

“They now face being deported back to New Zealand – a country many of them haven’t been to since they were young children.

“The death of Junior Togatuki was a preventable tragedy. The Government must seek an urgent explanation about why the 23-year-old – who had a recognised mental illness – was left unsupervised in solitary confinement.

“This follows a recent law change in Australia for non-Australian citizens who have served at least a 12-month prison sentence. John Key has called these New Zealand citizens ‘collateral damage’ in Australia’s crack down on immigration.

“It is time our Government stopped sitting back and watching this appalling treatment of New Zealand citizens and sought an urgent clarification of Australia’s policy.

“It has the potential to damage the special relationship between Australia and New Zealand; a relationship described by Australian leaders as ‘family’ and fostered by fighting side by side, even today in Iraq.

“Australians are not treated like this in New Zealand. The Government must do something about this now,” Andrew Little says.