Australian authorities are "very supportive" of a campaign to improve information sharing about dangerous criminals being deported to New Zealand, the Justice Minister says.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said discussions with her Australian counterparts in Sydney this week had seen support for improvements in the management of New Zealanders convicted in Australia and sent back to New Zealand.
Australian authorities were "absolutely supportive" of improving information sharing between the two countries, Collins told Radio New Zealand this morning.
They understood the current system was "very ad hoc", she said.
The meetings come after double child killer Jeremy McLaughlin was jailed for life this week, with a minimum non-parole period of 23 years, for strangling Chistchurch teen Jade Bayliss at her Somerfield home in November 2011.
Tina Bayliss had approached police with concerns about McLaughlin's behaviour just days before he killed her daughter, but privacy laws meant police were unable to tell her about his violent past.
In 1995, McLaughlin killed Perth teenager Phillip Vidot and left Tyron Williams in a coma for eight days and with permanent brain damage.
He was convicted of manslaughter and grievous bodily harm and deported back to New Zealand in 2001 after being released from jail.
Collins said New Zealand changed its privacy laws earlier this year to allow police to reveal more details about a criminal's past.
"We've changed the law to say if police believe there is a serious threat - it doesn't need to be about to happen - then they can pass that information on."
Officials were currently working on a Memorandum of Understanding between New Zealand and Australian authorities, but Collins would not go into the details of the plan yet, saying the relevant Australian ministers had only recently taken over their roles.
She did not know how many other serious offenders like McLaughlin were in New Zealand after being deported from Australia.
"I wouldn't know with any certainty on that and of course we don't know how many people have been deported over the years where full information hasn't been provided."
Fairfax Media reported earlier this week that Collins, the Sensible Sentencing Trust and Tina Bayliss were pushing for the changes to include a register of serious criminal deported to New Zealand, continued parole conditions for offenders deported back and better information sharing between Australia and New Zealand about deported criminals.
Collins told Radio New Zealand today that she did not know if a public register of offenders was still needed, saying it could be done another way, by making court decisions "freely available".
"Where there is court suppression that's obviously something that wouldn't be on a public register, but anything that can be reported by the media [could be included].
Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley was also "very keen" for a register of serious sexual offenders to be made available to authorities, but not necessarily the public, Collins said.
"There is a lot of work going on in this area and it is very new to us."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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