Background Checking

New Zealand criminals are strolling into Australia without background checks

Source: Herald Sun
Date: 8 October 2016

New Zealand criminals are strolling into Australia without background checks as the number of Kiwi deportations swells.

There is mounting police concern at the lack of scrutiny of New Zealanders entering Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.

Officers have told the Sunday Herald Sun that under current arrangements, visitors fill out an incoming passenger card to declare whether they have convictions.

But police say some lie and enter Australia when no background checks are done.

Some of these people have convictions for violent crime back in New Zealand.

One detective said the number of New Zealanders in detention in Australia was extraordinary.

“They’re not being detained over visas. They’re being detained for criminal offences,” one officer said. “They’re there because the Government has issued a 501 bad character notice. Big difference. Australia needs to smarten up on this stuff.”

Anybody entering Australia is required to fill out an incoming passenger card, which asks travellers to declare any criminal convictions.

There is no system in place that allows Australian authorities to check the criminal records of foreign citizens.

A person coming into Australia who has criminal convictions, but decides not to declare them on the card, will likely slip through unless they have been flagged beforehand or suspected of being a likely criminal by an ­Australian Border Force officer.

Australia’s Strategic Border Command Centre in Canberra and New Zealand’s Customs Integrated Targeting and Operations Centre routinely share information about known criminals travelling between the two countries.

In the past financial year, more than 200 New Zealanders with criminal convictions were denied entry into Australia and deported after arriving.

A Federal Government spokesman said it had strengthened its powers in 2014 to remove foreigners who had committed serious crimes or had serious convictions.

The spokesman said almost 900 New Zealanders had their visas cancelled in the past year.

He said the Australian and New Zealand authorities were working to improve criminal history data sharing.

Prior to the legislation changes it was less simple to deport New Zealanders with criminal convictions.

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