Two charter flights have removed a total of 29 New Zealand citizens from Australia this month (on 15 September from Melbourne and 16 September from Brisbane), following their visas being cancelled on character grounds.
Among those removed from Melbourne was Tamahue Faulkner Stirling, an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG) associate who had been convicted of armed robbery across Melbourne’s southeast. The robberies primarily targeted gaming venues and post offices.
The Brisbane cohort included OMCG president John Andrew Rakena who had been convicted of assault occasioning bodily harm and Christopher Yeoman who has strong OMCG links; convicted of weapons, explosives and drug offences. Also on board was Dean Anthony Walker who had been convicted of charges including murder, cruelty to a child under 16, assaults occasioning bodily harm and wilful damage.
Other convictions of those who were removed included child abuse material possession, drug offences, contravention of domestic violence order, cruelty to a child under 16, OMCG links and possession of illicit drugs.
Australian Border Force (ABF) Assistant Commissioner Peter Timson said the removal of these people to New Zealand highlighted the ABF’s continued resolve to remove
non-citizens who pose a threat to the Australian community, and its ability to conduct removals despite the lack of commercial flight options.
“The work of the ABF to protect the Australian community continues, regardless of the decreased volume of commercial flights in and out of the country. These individuals have clearly been convicted of some appalling acts, and as non-citizens they do not satisfy the character test to remain in Australia,” Assistant Commissioner Timson said.
The majority of those removed had their visas cancelled under section 501 of the Migration Act 1958. Assistant Commissioner Timson has advised that following the strengthened rules surrounding mandatory visa cancellation in December 2014, a total of 2980 New Zealand citizens have had their visas cancelled.
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.