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The Australian Government Stripped Thousands of Visas from Australian Visa Holders

Thousands stripped of visas and booted from Australia on grounds of bad character

Unlawful non-citizens are being created at a rate of 80 a month, with more than 4,700 visas cancelled on character grounds since the Coalition Government broadened its immigration powers in 2014.

The vast majority of the mandatory cancellations were for people convicted of criminal offences and sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, with drug offences, followed by assault and child sex abuse the most common crimes.

Watch the video on the fight for a Tamil family to stay in Australia above

And almost half of them are New Zealanders.

According to figures supplied by the Department of Home Affairs, 411 of the 888 people who had their visas cancelled on character grounds in 2018 were Kiwis.

But perhaps the most disturbing statistic in the government's data is that, last year, 11 people identified as being stateless were kicked out of the country.

A Home Affairs spokesman said the statistics were for visa cancellations, not deportations.
But under the 2014 amendments to the Migration Act, the government was given "clear removal powers" for all non-citizens whose visas had been mandatorily cancelled on character grounds.
Neither the department nor the Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, has responded to requests from 7NEWS.com.au for details on where the 11 stateless people were sent.

The Morrison government is now proposing to tighten the character test powers even further.

Under the changes, even if a visa holder is not sentenced to jail - but convicted of an offence that had the potential to put them behind bars for two or more years - they will automatically fail the character test and be deported.

Kiwis in government crosshairs

If the Bill passes, it is expected that thousands more New Zealanders - some who have lived here virtually all their lives - could be booted out of the country for something as comparatively minor as a community service sentence for an assault conviction.

Last week, the New Zealand high commissioner Annette King warned a Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee hearing that such a change to the Migration Act would "make a bad situation worse”.

Both NZ PM Jacinda Ardern and a previous PM, John Key, have criticised Australia's toughened migrations laws, arguing New Zealanders are disproportionately affected.

'Very few connections'

King told the hearing that many of the Kiwis already deported had been living in Australia since they were children.

“They’ve come back to New Zealand with very few connections," she said.

"They don’t have friends, they don’t have jobs … the glue that holds societies together.”

King is pushing for the Morrison government to grant New Zealand special status if the bill passes, reverting to pre-2014 conditions where Kiwis could only be deported on character grounds if they had been residents for less than 10 years.

The Human Rights Commission, the Law Council of Australia and refugee advocates are also lobbying politicians not to support the Bill.

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