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  • Writer's pictureDessie

Common-sense approach to character cancellations for New Zealanders

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will welcome New Zealand’s new Prime Minister The Rt Hon Chris Hipkins to Australia on 7 February. This visit will mark Prime Minister Hipkins’s first international trip as leader.

Mr Albanese has stated that Australia values the priority that both countries place on their bilateral relationship, hence Australia and New Zealand will celebrate an important milestone in 2023; a revision to Australia’s approach to deporting NZ citizens who have spent more than one year in an Australian prison. The new approach under Ministerial Direction No 99 will come into effect on 3 March 2023. It revokes Direction 90 Visa refusal and cancellation under section 501 and revocation of a mandatory cancellation of a visa under section 501CA 15 April 2021.

The previous Ministerial Direction 90 has led to a frosty immigration relationship with New Zealand. Now Australian Immigration Minister Andrew Giles has directed his department to review these instances paying attention to the strength, duration and nature of a person’s connection with Australia.

The principles under Subsection 5.2 of Direction 99 has the following paragraph added under 5.2(5):

With respect to decisions to refuse, cancel, and revoke cancellation of a visa, Australia will generally afford a higher level of tolerance of criminal or other serious conduct by non-citizens who have lived in the Australian community for most of their life, or from a very young age. The level of tolerance will rise with the length of time a non-citizen has spent in the Australian community, particularly in their formative years.

Some New Zealanders have been in Australian since they were very young and have no connections with New Zealand so sending them back is an unjust imposition on the individual, their Australian family and connections, and on New Zealand.

Late last year Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged to consider these changes following a meeting with the previous New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern.

It is hoped that this new approach will enable a more common-sense approach to the issue though it does not stop deportations altogether, as an example if the individuals pose a risk to the community they will be removed from Australia. Prime Minister Albanese has stated that this decision will not compromise national security.

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said that this new approach was a welcome first step, but further work would continue.

"The acknowledgement on the Australian side that actually some of the people that we are talking about have had a long history in Australia - some of them have been there since they were very young children and sending them to New Zealand when they have no connections here other than a very historic one isn't really a fair or just outcome," Mr Hipkins said.

"I think the acknowledgement of that by the Australians is very, very welcome."

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