Australia’s deportation of Alex Viane is yet more evidence of how it treats NZ as the junior partner in the ANZAC relationship. (Photo: 123RF.COM)
Oz Kiwi opinion
The deportation of a man from Australia to New Zealand who has never even set foot in the country, and whose family are all Australian citizens, has been generating controversy in New Zealand.
Unfortunately, this seems to be another case where Australia has decided that its ‘sovereign right’ to do whatever it wants trumps any consideration for its neighbour and closest ally.
15 January 2018
Editorial: New Zealand, Australia’s junior Anzac partner
Opinion: Alex Viane appears to be a New Zealand citizen almost by accident. Born in American Samoa 40 years ago, he moved to Australia as a teenager. His parents and most of his family are Australian citizens. He has never set foot in New Zealand.
Yet, Viane will soon be here – banished from Australia, the country where he has lived for the last 25 years and where he has a partner, two daughters – one adult and one a toddler – a grandchild and a large extended family network.
By his own admission, Viane has “no hope of contributing positively” to New Zealand society. He has a history of repeated offending. He knows no-one in New Zealand and has “no ties, no job prospects and no home” on this side of the Tasman.
Viane’s case is set out in a decision last week from the Australian Federal Court, which has declined to overturn immigration authorities’ cancellation of his Australian visa.
It does not detail Viane’s criminal history, which he attributes to alcoholism, nor how he happened to be a citizen of New Zealand. It does, however, mention his unhappy childhood marked by violence and fear.
His partner and their baby daughter are Australian citizens. If they are to continue to have a family life together, they will have to move to New Zealand, where they also have no ties.
None of this is of any concern to the Australians any more. They have effectively washed their hands of Viane, as they have of hundreds of other New Zealand citizens – some with equally tenuous ties to this country – since a harsh new immigration law came into effect in 2014.
The law change meant New Zealanders could be kicked out of Australia more easily on the grounds of “character”, and if they were sent to prison for more than a year it became mandatory. New Zealanders are now the largest group awaiting deportation in Australian immigration detention centres, and the number being sent here has now reached 660 a year – nearly two a day.
Some of them are gang members or serious criminals. About a quarter of those deported back to New Zealand have since reoffended.
Others are arguably not criminals at all – for instance, a young man with several run-ins with police, but no convictions, who was arrested after a fight while out celebrating his 21st birthday, and soon found himself on a plane to Christchurch. His family members now take turns to visit him.
When the new law was introduced in Parliament it was touted as reflecting “the Australian community’s low tolerance for criminal, non-compliant or fraudulent behaviour” by non-citizens, especially if they posed a risk to the community.
Any other arguments don’t matter – the plight of the deportees is not taken into consideration, nor is the effect on the country into which they are dumped. This is in keeping with Australia’s generally hard-line position on immigration, and its general disregard in the treatment of 650,000 New Zealanders living in Australia.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said Australia should only send back people who have genuine affiliations and roots in New Zealand.
Don’t expect the Australians to pay any attention to that. Treating New Zealand as the junior partner in the Anzac relationship seems to have become their default position.Hi
[Read the Stuff article].