New Zealand prisoners in Australia

First listen to October 17th 2015 for some background information.

Some of these New Zealand men who served time in prison in Australia, are waiting to be deported to New Zealand. In the meantime, they were taken to a prison on Christmas Island. A few days ago there was a riot in this prison which caused a large amount of damage. As a result, five New Zealand men and two others have been sent to prison in Perth.

Christmas Island is an Australian territory but is not part of the Australian mainland. It is 5,000km from the capital of Australia but only 500km from Indonesia. Australia is using this small island to keep asylum seekers until Immigration has had a chance to check their claim. Many of these people arrive on small boats, hoping Australia will accept them as refugees. On this island is another prison for people who are waiting to be deported. They are called ‘detainees’.

Both asylum seekers and detainees are getting desperate at how long they have been waiting for Australian Immigration to make decisions. Last weekend, one Kurdish asylum seeker escaped from the prison and was later found dead at the bottom of a cliff. This was possibly the reason for the riot in the detainees’ prison.

On Tuesday, a Labour MP accused the Prime Minister of not doing enough to help the New Zealand detainees. This led to an angry scene in Parliament. The Prime Minister used very emotive language, suggesting these detainees were very violent criminals. The Speaker of the House usually does not allow this kind of language but he did nothing. Some Labour MPs walked out and yesterday some women MPs walked out. They want an apology from the Prime Minister or the Speaker.

The situation with the New Zealand detainees is a difficult one. NZ cannot interfere with the decisions of Australia. We have a more lenient policy for foreigners – including Australians – who commit a crime here but it is true that we do not have so many Australians living here.


• deported – sent back to their own country
• territory – land
• asylum seekers – hope to be accepted as refugees
• claim – their case, their statement that they are refugees
• detainee – a person being detained, or held, by force
• emotive language – language with strong emotional feelings; words like ‘rapists, child sex molesters, murderers’
• Speaker of the House – the Speaker keeps order in Parliament
• lenient – gentle, opposite of strict

Note these idioms: serve time on prison, commit a crime; interfere with

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