Australia deports planeloads of NZ citizens following visa cancellation on character grounds

16 July 2020 I Australian Border Force (ABF) has deported 31 New Zealand citizens after their Australian visas were cancelled on character grounds.

One of the deportees who were sent home on two separate flights this week is Mace Sitope, a high profile outlaw motorcycle gang member. According to ABF, Mr Sitope was the President of the Victorian chapter of the Rebels until recently and has been known by various aliases including Ray Siloi and Ray Elise.

The group failed the character test because of their convictions that included serious crimes like armed robbery, aggravated burglary, unlawful assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, contravention of family violence order, recklessly causing injury, obtaining property by deception and unlawful use of motor vehicle.

The removal of these New Zealanders highlighted Australian Border Force’s continued resolve to remove people with dangerous criminal history so that the community could be safer, said ABF Commander for Field Operations, Ben Biddington.

“The Australian Government is responsible for protecting the community from the risk of harm arising from foreign nationals who choose to engage in criminal activity. The majority of those persons removed had their visas cancelled under s501 of the Migration Act,” Commander Biddington further said.

Since the rules around mandatory visa cancellation were strengthened in December 2014, a total of 2877 New Zealand citizens have had their visas cancelled under the character provisions of the Migration Act, Commander Biddington further added

There are provisions under the Migration Act 1958 that allow the Minister for Home Affairs to cancel a visa if a person is considered to not be of good character. A person can fail the character test for a number of reasons, including but not limited to circumstances where a non-citizen has a substantial criminal record, ABF said in a press statement today.

The two flights, which departed on 14 and 15 July 2020, comprised detainees from Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

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