Deportee has ‘never been to NZ’
Australia offload 40-year-old Samoa-born crim although he has no ties to New Zealand. By Harrison Christian and Hannah Martin.
AUSTRALIA will deport a convicted criminal to New Zealand who has never set foot on our shores.
It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last month Australia should be deporting only New Zealand-born criminals who still have genuine links to New Zealand.
Alex Viane, 40, was born in American Samoa and became a New Zealand citizen as a child, but never entered the country.
He went to Australia as a teenager on a temporary visa, and over 25 years was convicted, and in some cases jailed, for several crimes.
In July last year, Australia’s minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, cancelled Viane’s visa on character grounds.
A decision from Justice Robert Bromwich released by the Federal Court of Australia on Friday, dismissed an application from Viane for a judicial review of his visa cancellation.
Viane’s hand-written application to revoke the cancellation of his visa was reproduced in the court decision.
‘‘My parents are Australian citizens and I came to Australia with them in 1990 from Samoa,’’ he wrote.
‘‘I have no family or supportive networks in New Zealand. I have never been to New Zealand, I have no immediate family or support. I will have no hope of contributing positively to their society.’’
In the decision, Justice Bromwich found that Viane ‘‘has no support network in New Zealand and will be separated from his children, partner and family’’.
However, he said Viane ‘‘will have access to similar social services and healthcare support as other citizens of New Zealand’’.
‘‘I also find that after some initial difficulty, Mr Viane will have the opportunity to establish a lifestyle comparable to that of other citizens of New Zealand,’’ the judge continued.
Justice Bromwich concluded Viane represented ‘‘an unacceptable risk of harm to the Australian community’’ and the protection of the Australian community ‘‘outweighed the best interests of his child and other minor family members’’.
Government figures show a quarter of 1023 New Zealanders forced out of Australia since 2015 have gone on to rack up convictions on this side of the Tasman. And, of the 252 deportees convicted here, a quarter have ended up behind bars.
Helen Murphy, who leads the Christchurch branch of Prisoners’ Aid and Rehabilitation Society, said ‘‘501s’’ – the nickname given to deportees – were ‘‘refugees as far as I’m concerned’’.
Most had no New Zealand paperwork and require IRD numbers so they can receive benefits and open a bank account. ‘‘It’s more than just family missing, it’s their whole history wiped out. It breaks my heart. It’s draconian stuff.’’
Duty minister Tracey Martin said it ‘‘wasn’t [her] place’’ to comment on Australian government policy, but that the New Zealand government was looking at whether deportees were receiving enough support.