Journalist Peter FitzSimons has defended his controversial report on New Zealander deportation from Australia that was aired on ABC’s Foreign Correspondent on Tuesday night.
The 57-year-old came under fire for the investigative segment from Coalition ministers who targeted him for failing to interview the victims of violent kiwis who had been forced out of the country.
Assistant Home Affairs Minister Alex Hawke slammed the Fairfax columnist for the report that investigated why Australia is deporting more New Zealanders than any other group.
“I watched the entire program, and I have to say I felt the ABC program did not consider the impact on victims,” The Australian reported he said.
“There wasn’t a victim on the show, and what we’re talking about is serious criminal offences.”
Hitting back at the claims, FitzSimons spoke exclusively to news.com.au, on why he believes the program was well-rounded.
“For us to interview a specific victim of Haapu, as Assistant Minister Hawke suggest, we would need to know some specific crime that Haapu has been charged with, and we don’t,” he explained.
“In the case of Sean Wynyard, we had many interactions with his wife, and she made it clear she had forgiven him, and wanted him back, as do her children, but she declined to be interviewed.
“Anthony Miller was convicted of pushing drugs, for which he served time. Again, his was not a case of specific victims having grievances.”
Over the past three years a total of 1,300 Kiwis have been deported from Australia for committing crimes or being found to be of bad character.
On top of this, another 15,000 are set to be sent back over the next 10 years.
Understanding the sensitivity of the story, the journalist said it was not a surprise the report received significant criticism, however, there were many interested in the subject.
“Many Australians are not aware of the issue at all and a prime-time, high-profile program taking a look at the issue and allowing both sides to have a say should be welcomed,” he told news.com.au.
A spokeswoman for the ABC has also defended the program, saying they were not downplaying the seriousness of the crimes.