Recent immigration cases have proven that long-term residency in Australia does not prevent a New Zealand citizen from having their visa cancelled. Under new laws, foreigners can have their visas cancelled if they have been sentenced to one year or more of imprisonment. Since the changes took effect in December 2014, more than 300 New Zealanders have been deported. The Immigration Department claims that 3425 offences were committed by these New Zealanders in Australia, however we query how many were “trivial” – for example these “offences” include comparatively minor offences like drunkenness, public nuisance, speeding and other traffic offences.
One example is a New Zealand man called Simon Horne, who was deported from Australia last year after being convicted of a number of offences including grievous bodily harm, assault with intent to cause harm, drink driving, and breaches of parole. The significant nature of these offences was always going to be an issue if he had tried to resist deportation, and to a large extent, the new laws were designed specifically to remove people with criminal history like this. That said, Horne also suffers with a number of mental illnesses, including paranoia, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, which we believe are relevant, and further the Immigration Department appear to have shown little regard for the fact that he has lived in Australia for over 40 years, that he started and raised a family (which he still lived with and supported), and that he had lived here for over 40 years. It would not have helped Horne’s case that he has limited evidence of community contributions – for example, he is unemployed and receives $330 a week from the Australian government. Horne was still deported, his family separated between two countries, and his faith in being allowed to rebuild his life (after serving his time), has been thoroughly demolished. This demonstrates an attitude of strict intolerance by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and a willingness to exercise their power to arbitrarily deport people with a criminal record.
In another case, a woman who had lived in Australia for more than 30 years was deported back to New Zealand after manipulating a dementia patient under her care to sell her $520 000 home for only $370 000, before absconding to Europe for a year-long holiday with the proceeds of the sale. The offender, 63 year old Jean Marzella, assumed multiple identities while on the run, obtaining a number of different Australian and British passports under various aliases. In 2015, Marzella was sentenced to five years imprisonment. During the hearing, it was revealed that Marzella had applied for Australian residency under one of her aliases and was sponsored by her husband, a former lawyer.
Though it appears that Australia is ‘cleansing’ itself of its convict history, this may have implications for New Zealand authorities who are allegedly unaware of the deportation of a number of criminally insane offenders. Health authorities have been unable to gain sufficient information about these criminals’ clinical history from Australian authorities. A spokesperson for the Australian government has now claimed that this issue has been dealt with under a new information sharing scheme with New Zealand, which took effect last September.
The Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, has indicated that he will continue to pursue this strict agenda leading into the weeks prior to the Australian Federal election. We hope that the Minister will adopt a more balanced consideration of a person’s individual circumstances, and in particular that the Minister should have careful regard to the impact that cancellation may have on Australian family members, and on the general principles of sentencing and rehabilitation…and in particular to ensure our treaty obligations are being fully satisfied so Australia does not come under international condemnation.
If your visa has been cancelled due to character issues, call one of our experienced Migration Agents at The Migration Place on +61 7 3229 4025.