Australian government continues deportations of New Zealanders
17 January 2018
Alex Viane, 40, faces deportation from Australia to New Zealand, despite never having set foot in New Zealand and having no ties to the country. His parents, partner and baby daughter are all Australian citizens.
Viane was born in American Samoa and became a New Zealand citizen as a youngster, despite never being to the country. His family moved to Australia in 1990, when he was a child. Last July, Australian Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton ordered his deportation on “character grounds” due to undisclosed criminal convictions. Viane challenged the order, but the Federal Court dismissed his appeal on January 12.
Viane is one of more than 3,000 people who have been deported following an amendment in December 2014 to section 501 of Australia’s Migration Act. Anyone who has committed offences with prison sentences totalling 12 months or more can be expelled now, regardless of how long they have lived in Australia. Many people have been deported for minor offences, such as drug possession or shoplifting.
New Zealanders now make up the largest nationality group in Australia’s immigration detention centres, with approximately 175 people currently detained. In the past financial year, 664 New Zealanders had their visas cancelled. Under a long-standing agreement between the two countries, New Zealanders can live and work in Australia indefinitely without gaining citizenship. Out of more than 600,000 New Zealanders living in Australia, about 400,000 are not Australian citizens.
People who have spent no time in prison can be summarily deported also. Section 116 of the Migration Act gives the minister sweeping powers to cancel a visa if “the presence of…