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.

Sunday News - - NEWS -

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.

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