United Future leader and Minister of Internal Affairs Peter Dunne has compared Australia’s detention centres to concentration camps in his blog “Dunne Speaks”. He also said the Australian Government’s ministers were “villains” because of the sub-standard treatment of New Zealanders awaiting deportation.

“I think there will be a lot of people who will make that sort of call, who will decide that perhaps one way of venting their protest is to either not go to Australia, or make their concerns know to Australian people that they know, relatives, friends etcetera.”

Dunne said the “appalling uproars and disgraceful behaviours” in Parliament had overshadowed the fact that Australia was treating detainees “in a way that is appalling, no matter which way you look at it”.

“No-one here is attempting to suggest that New Zealanders living in Australia who commit crimes, and often nasty and serious ones, should not pay the penalty in Australia…rather, the issue is about these people being detained in pretty disgusting detention camps while awaiting deportation. We are, as your leaders keep telling us, family after all.”

He said Australia’s “modern concentration camp approach” to detainees was simply unacceptable and needed to be replaced with a more humane policy.

“It was wrong when the British tried it in Northern Ireland in the 1970s; it is wrong in Guantanamo Bay, or in Israel today. Australia is no different.”

However, MP Dunne told Radio NZ he was not speaking as a government minister while he accused Australia of running “modern concentration camps”.

“The responsibility sits on me in that regard only – it was not a mouthpiece for the Government or anything, it was my own view.”

“These are inhumane, inhospitable places and…Australia is really going to the boundaries of human rights in terms of its use of those,” he added. 

Concentration camps were widely used during the World War II as part of the Nazi regime’s policy of confining, enslaving, and often killing Jews and other oppressed minorities.

The British Empire also used concentration camps in South Africa to detain Boers, or Afrikaners, during the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War.