Questions of fairness surrounding the deportation of convicted New Zealanders from Australia

Many of you know Rebecca Powell as the Managing-Director of the Border Crossing Observatory, however, she is also completing a PhD part time, researching the deportation of convicted New Zealanders from Australia under section 501 – visa cancellation and refusal on character grounds – of the Migration Act. The focus of Rebecca’s PhD research is to understand how considerations of risk and human rights are weighed up in s501 policy and decision making and the human impacts of deportation. Her research explores this through an analysis of s501 policy developments, how risk and human rights are considered in practice by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) in visa cancellation review decisions. She is also investigating the human impacts of visa cancellation and deportation on New Zealanders from interviews with those who have experienced this and their family members.

Rebecca is passionate about her PhD research and the opportunity it provides for her to advocate on this issue using evidence-based research on this very topical issue. New Zealanders are the largest deportee nationality group from Australia under s501, and many of those who are deported are long term residents of Australia, with little to no connection to New Zealand. During her most recent visit to Australia, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described this issue as having a ‘corrosive’ impact on Australian and New Zealand diplomatic relations. Human rights of individuals who experience visa cancellation and deportation are often secondary considerations in visa cancellation policy and decision making, and do not weigh up against the government’s collective priority to uphold and protect community safety from the risk convicted non-citizens are perceived to present.

Rebecca was recently invited to write a piece on this issue for Overland online literary journal where she encouraged readers to question fairness surrounding the deportation of long term New Zealander residents under s501. Using the autobiography of Shane Martin, A rebel in exile (Hardie Grant Publishing 2019) as a foundation from which to present this deportation experience, Rebecca advocates for the human rights of s501 New Zealander deportees. You can read her article ‘Questions of fairness: New Zealander experiences of s501 and the case of Shane Martin’ here.