Sucked in to ice ad­dict losers

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - OPINION - DAVID PENBERTHY

AUS­TRALIA is in the mid­dle of a skills shortage.

We need more lock­smiths, hair­dressers, me­chan­ics and pas­try chefs.

We seem to be do­ing al­right for ice-ad­dled crim­i­nals, though.

I’m not sure what the op­ti­mal number is, but it feels that as a so­ci­ety we’ve got there, with­out hav­ing to go the ex­tra yard of im­port­ing them from over­seas.

There was a case out of Vic­to­ria this week in­volv­ing an Aus­tralian non-cit­i­zen whose pitiable life has been one long string of bad de­ci­sions — most of them ap­par­ently made while on crys­tal meth.

It was pitched as one of those sto­ries that tugs on your heart­strings, in that the Gee­long mother-of-five is fac­ing de­por­ta­tion to her birth­place, the United King­dom, despite the fact she em­i­grated to Aus­tralia at the grand old age of two.

Maybe I need to take my heart­strings in for a tune-up as, in all hon­esty upon read­ing her tale of woe, my flint-hearted, five-word re­ac­tion was “sucked in and bon voy­age”. The story goes as fol­lows. Our sis­ter pa­per the Her­ald Sun reported that Kelly Webb, from Gee­long, will be kicked out of Aus­tralia af­ter blow­ing her last chance to avoid de­por­ta­tion un­der the fed­eral Govern­ment’s im­mi­gra­tion char­ac­ter test.

Ms Webb was set to be re­leased from jail this week and taken to an im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion cen­tre af­ter her Aus­tralian visa was of­fi­cially can­celled by Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Peter Dut­ton.

Ms Webb has a bleak back­story. She came here in 1988 and was raised in Vic­to­ria but never be­came an Aus­tralian cit­i­zen.

As a young girl, she was a vic­tim of sus­tained do­mes­tic abuse, which reached its apex with her killing her own step­fa­ther.

She was charged with man­slaugh­ter and re­ceived a good-be­hav­iour bond.

Af­ter that her life de­scended into a cy­cle of drugs and crime.

In 2016, her long-term visa was can­celled while she was serv­ing an 18month sen­tence for bur­glary with a steak knife.

Af­ter that of­fence, Ms Webb pleaded for — and re­ceived — a sec­ond chance.

Despite her ex­ten­sive crim­i­nal his­tory, she promised she had changed her ways.

In a post on Face­book last year she said the fol­low­ing: “The old Kelly Webb is gone, the new Kelly has her head screwed on and learnt from her mis­takes this time. From now on my kids come first which is how it should have been 2 be­gin with but I was 2 self cen­tred and selfish. Can’t wait for my fu­ture, I be­lieve this is my 2nd chance to raise these kids and I wont f--k that up 4 no­body.’’

What­ever you think of her syn­tax, the sen­ti­ments sounded promis­ing but, since then, Ms Webb has been back to her old ways, com­mit­ting more crimes in the Gee­long area. In Fe­bru­ary, she was back in court fac­ing a raft of theft charges in­clud­ing stealing from a liquor store.

Her children are aged from two to 12 and some of her rob­beries were com­mit­ted while she had her twoyear-old daugh­ter with her in a pram.

She has ad­mit­ted to tak­ing meth daily and says she only com­mit­ted the crimes to fuel her habit.

What­ever the case, Peter Dut­ton has had enough.

He is ex­pected to an­nounce that Ms Webb will have to head back to the old country, say­ing she is no longer Aus­tralia’s prob­lem — as he has done and is do­ing with so many other crim­i­nal non-cit­i­zens, be they bikies, sex of­fend­ers or petty drug crim­i­nals like her.

There are plenty of lo­gis­ti­cal ques­tions that sur­round Ms Webb’s pend­ing de­por­ta­tion.

The first goes to whether we are sim­ply of­fload­ing our own prob­lems onto an­other country.

The sec­ond goes to how we, as a na­tion, would feel if the Brits (or Ugan­dans or Syr­i­ans or Malaysians, or any­one) started ca­su­ally telling us that life­long Aussie crim­i­nals who had lived in their coun­tries since in­fancy were now head­ing back here. An­other more press­ing ques­tion goes to the sta­tus of Ms Webb’s children.

Do they stay here? Do they go with her? She has clearly proven her­self an un­fit par­ent — do the child­pro­tec­tion au­thor­i­ties step in prior to her de­par­ture, or do we leave that moral as­pect of the is­sue for her new home country to grap­ple with?

For all these valid ques­tions, these cases come down to one fun­da­men­tal is­sue: per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity, and the per­sonal choices these peo­ple have made.

There is a lim­ited pool of sym­pa­thy in our trou­bled world and how­ever sad and hor­ri­ble Ms Webb’s back­story is, I find it hard to sum­mon up too much of mine for some­one who has re­peat­edly squan­dered every chance at redemp­tion.

If both­er­ing to be­come cit­i­zens was too big a stretch for all these free­loaders, they could have at least shown lim­ited grat­i­tude by not break­ing the laws of the na­tion that was kind enough to give them a home.

And, fail­ing that, I sup­pose these non-cit­i­zens could have al­ways fol­lowed the lead of oth­ers be­fore them, by sim­ply run­ning for fed­eral Par­lia­ment.

Ice ad­dict mum Kelly Webb is about to be de­ported.

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