Border force admits error on 'trash' story

·2-min read

The boss of Australia's border force has admitted a journalist shouldn't have been given access to a tarmac to launch questions at people being deported to New Zealand.

Liberal frontbencher Amanda Stoker also defended Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton for referring to the deportations as "taking the trash out" in the Nine Network TV report.

Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram stopped short of agreeing it was a mistake, instead calling it a one-off incident caused by a junior media officer.

"In this case I think a decision was made that I would prefer wasn't made," he told a Senate hearing in Canberra on Monday.

"It was an error at the time but I wouldn't characterise it any differently than that."

A 15-year-old was deported on the flight.

Senator Stoker initially said Mr Dutton was taken out of context, but after reading the transcript rejected Greens senator Nick McKim's criticism.

"It's abundantly clear that minister Dutton's language is not directed to the character of the 15-year-old but speaks more generally to the conduct of people," she said.

"A reference to one's behaviour is very different to a reference to one's character."

Senator McKim said that was a straw man argument because he never said Mr Dutton was talking about the teenager.

The journalist was allowed access to the tarmac to ask a woman in handcuffs flanked by border officers: "How does it feel to be be kicked out of Australia?"

"F*** off," the woman replied.

He also asked: "Our country doesn't want you, are you excited to go home?"

Mr Outram said the journalist and the media officer had been reminded it was not to be repeated.

Greens senator Nick McKim lashed out at the reporting as he pursued officials and the junior minister over the issue.

"I really hesitate to describe him as a journalist because I think he's just gutter trash but I'll call him a journalist because that's probably how he self identifies," he told the hearing.

Senator Stoker said she believed no human was trash but accused Senator McKim of doing so.