Up to 150 New Zealand detainees deported from Australia could require monitoring by Corrections officials, costing millions, Justice minister Amy Adams has revealed.
The Department of Corrections expected to have to keep tabs on 100 to 150 deportees, part of the influx of up to 300 people expected to return to New Zealand, the minister said this morning.
This monitoring would cost $7.4 million, a tab the Government was picking up.
The first plane load of 20 deportees was expected to touch down in New Zealand tomorrow and Parliament was sitting under urgency today to debate proposed legislation introduced by Ms Adams, subjecting those who had committed serious criminal offences in Australia to mandatory monitoring here.
Speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning, Ms Adams said she didn't know where the first flight would touch down.
"I'm not going to be at the airport meeting them. Police, Corrections, social agencies will be meeting them," she said.
"They get off the plane. They are met immediately as part of the arrival process.
"On the basis that the Bill goes through, police will serve them with a notice explaining to them that they are subject to mandatory supervision conditions, that they are required to give their fingerprints, their details, a DNA swab if that's appropriate for their offending type, and explaining to them that they have to work with the probation services and what all that means."
Corrections staff would ask the deportees if they had anywhere to go or family to stay with.
If not, they would try to arrange emergency-offender accommodation for them, as they did with released prisoners in New Zealand, Ms Adams told Radio New Zealand.
The proposed legislation would include penalties for breaching monitoring terms, including prison sentences, she said.
When asked why the law was only being passed now, when changes to Australian legislation were introduced a year ago, Ms Adams said the "biggest delay" was waiting for Australian officials to provide all relevant information.
That happened in September.
"We became aware of it in February and I have regarded it as a matter of urgency since that time," she said.
Ms Adams was critical of the Australian law that meant anyone who served more than 12 months in jail there, for any offence, could be deported.
It disregarded the length of time deportees had spent in Australia, she said.