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Old 20th April 2011, 03:19 PM   #5
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Australia deports British-born man

A British-born man who has lived in Australia since he was six has been deported to the UK due to his violent criminal record, despite calls for him to stay.


ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: A British-born father of three who has lived in Australia since he was six years old has been deported after failing a government character test.

Clifford Tucker spent 12 years in jail in the 1980s and 90s for a series of violent crimes, but only came to the attention of immigration authorities when he took his first overseas holiday to Bali in 2008.

Legal scholars say the banishing of long-term residents following a criminal conviction is a controversial practice, but it's one the Government has been using increasingly, as Peter Lloyd reports.

PETER LLOYD, REPORTER: When Thai Airways flight 478 left Sydney today one man on board was a reluctant passenger, leaving Australia against his will after an 18-month legal battle.

By his own admission, Clifford Tucker has a long history of violence.

CLIFFORD TUCKER, DEPORTEE: The first one was 1983. I got a 12-year sentence for attempted murder on a policeman when I was 19. Got out in 1991, found it very hard to adjust. So I started drinking heavily, started smoking cannabis heavily. That ended up with me going back to jail for another two years for an assault on a person who stole some money from me.

PETER LLOYD: After that sentence, Clifford Tucker says he was diagnosed with depression and a personality disorder. He was also battling alcoholism.

CLIFFORD TUCKER: I wanted to commit suicide in 1997, I think it was. I went into the police station with a lump of wood. I thought if I started smashing it up, they would shoot me. Unfortunately, they didn't. They just overpowered me and arrested me and done me for wilful damage and assault and I got two years for that as well.

PETER LLOYD: A holiday to Bali in 2008, his first overseas trip, was the turning point.
Clifford Tucker had run afoul of the Migration Act.

MICHELLE FOSTER, UNI. OF MELBOURNE, LAW SCHOOL: Under Section 501 of the Migration Act, the minister can at any time cancel a person's visa if the minister takes the view that that person has failed the character test.

PETER LLOYD: It hasn't always been so easy for the Government to remove someone.

MICHELLE FOSTER: When the Hawke Government came into power in 1983, they passed an amendment to the Migration Act so as to essentially protect the residency of persons who'd been here more than 10 years. And the idea was that, look, these people had been formed by Australian society. We're responsible for them, and so they need to have that right to remain.

PETER LLOYD: Under the Howard Government, the law was amended again. The length of a persons' stay in Australia no longer mattered if like Clifford Tucker they were deemed to have failed the character test.

Observers like Michelle Foster from Melbourne University Law School argue the Migration Act was meant to keep undesirable people out, not exclude those already here for most of their lives.

MICHELLE FOSTER: There was never any discussion or any intention for that provision to apply to the plight of long-term residents. And indeed many committees that have studied the history of these provisions since that time have identified this problem, have said, "Look, 501 was never designed to be used in the context of persons who've been here a long time, particularly more than 10 years.

PETER LLOYD: Clifford Tucker's mother says her son's mental health problems mean he deserves more consideration and support from the country he has called home since he was six. He deteriorated, she says, after being repeatedly sexually assaulted during his first prison sentence.

TERRY HAIGHTON, MOTHER: When he came home he had post-traumatic stress and was going into deep depressions quite a lot.

PETER LLOYD: The Tucker family mounted an appeal before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The tribunal also listened to Tucker's estranged partner and their three children.

Justice Buchanan found that, "All three children expressed some level of fear of their father. His conclusion left no room for further appeal. "We are in no doubt," he said, "that there is a risk of violent behaviour from Mr Tucker, and therefore of harm to others, if he remains in Australia."

A day ago before his deportation, Clifford Tucker was telling a different story.

CLIFFORD TUCKER: I'm not a career criminal. I'm not a psychopath. I haven't committed any violent crimes for 10 years, since 1999.

PETER LLOYD: His lawyer argues that the Government is punishing a man twice over.

STEPHEN KENNY, LAWYER: When people were transported to Australia they were sentenced to be transported to Australia for life. In this case he's gone through an administrative process that found that he fits a criteria and for that he's not only being transported for life to England, he's also being asked to pay for the privilege.

PETER LLOYD: Mr Tucker says he's been presented with a bill for his airfare and that of three escort guards, a total of $14,000.

In a statement, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said, "The Government takes very seriously its role in protecting the Australian community from unacceptable risk of harm from criminal or other serious conduct by non-citizens."

Clifford Tucker's case is far from isolated.

MICHELLE FOSTER: In 2008 the then minister for immigration, Senator Chris Evans, gave some information to the Senate estimates committee. At that time there were 25 people in detention whose visas had been cancelled under 501, and only one of those 25 had been in Australia for less than 10 years. And in fact by far the majority of those people had come to Australia as either minors or young people.


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