20 July 2009 | 06:31:09 AM | Source: AAP
New Zealanders with criminal records could be prevented from travelling across the Tasman after Australian authorities raised concerns over "the issue of NZ criminals".
New Zealand police and immigration officials met with their Australian counterparts in Wellington late last year to discuss trans-Tasman crime and the possibility of sharing criminal histories.
The Australian government was concerned too many New Zealanders were trying to enter the country without declaring criminal convictions, The Dominion Post reported.
Australian Immigration spokesman Phil Allen said people with convictions were usually only discovered after a crime had been committed.
"The more we can do to have that advanced notification of criminals across the Tasman, the better. And that goes for both countries. It's a specific issue of concern to Australia and New Zealand," he said.
"Preventing travel by criminals would contribute significantly to the over-arching goal of facilitating the movement of genuine travellers."
In the last year, 157 New Zealanders were turned away from Australia, while 25 Australians were denied entry to New Zealand.
Civil Liberties Council chairman Michael Bott told the newspaper he had concerns about the information sharing.
"What is their criteria for blocking access and will there be a consistency of approach across the two countries?" he said.
"Australia is built on people with criminal convictions leaving England so it seems a bit rich to do this now."
Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said information sharing may not be sinister but the proposal had to be well thought through.
Information about diversion could be misunderstood by Australian authorities, she said.
"We need to get very tight rules around it. Once that information is held in Australia, we want to know how it is being used and who would have access to it," she said.