Saturday, 31 October 2015

I Hope Australia Wins the Rugby World Cup - There, I Said It!

Lately I've been starting to think that Australia doesn't like us Kiwi's very much; yes the whole country, or at least it's starting to look that way, especially as we get closer to the rugby world cup final and Australian sports fans contemplate the joys of playing the All Blacks. Not being a fan of rugby I generally don't care about the outcome of test matches, except games between these two teams because regardless of the outcome I know I am going to get crap from some of my Aussie mates: if we lose it's a week of pathetic sheep shagger comments, of Kiwi sportspeople being chokers, etc, etc.  And it's no better if we win, because the comments swap to us Kiwi's being arrogant, poor winners if by chance even the slightest hint of a smile should cross my lips anytime over the next few days. I have a good Aussie friend who told me earlier this year that he didn't go to the pub to watch the games anymore because he was "sick of all the arrogant Kiwi's carrying on if the AB's win". I've tried to be sympathetic, but I simply can't be because it is obvious to me that he is mistaking joy and humble pride with arrogance because let's face it, as an Aussie rugby fan he hasn't enjoyed either of those feelings too often over the past 8 years or so of regular hidings from the men in black.

Although I am not a fan I will still be rooting for the All Black's to win, but a small part of me, deep in my gut, would be happy for an Aussie win, just so I can avoid the whining and crying of my sports obsessed Aussie mates, all of whom seem to possess a gene from birth that makes them believe that their country should dominate New Zealand in all sports. For my Aussie male friends, it seems to be an affront to their fragile masculinity anytime we beat them in either of the main rugby codes.  And so it has been a particularly painful time for them since 2008, and for me who has to listen to hours of excuses about the grass being too long, of Ritchie McCaw being offside, etc, etc.

But one particular reason why I wouldn't be upset if the Aussies won is because now my friends have a new jibe to throw into the mix of insults and moans they can deploy against my fragile psych, namely the fact that we Kiwi's are a bunch of violent, criminal thugs who should, and are being deported at an increasing rate back to New Zealand. I am referring to the fact that recent changes to legislation in Australia make it easier for officials to deport New Zealander's with criminal histories back to the homeland.

In summary, the facts are these (for more detailed information on this issue and related to the permanent residency and visa issues for New Zealander's I recommend you access the following Facebook page of Vicky Rose, manager of the Nerang Neighbourhood Centre, 

  • recent changes to legislation means that New Zealander's either on a visa (no, you do not automatically become a permanent resident upon arrival), or indeed who is a permanent  resident can have their visa/status revoked due to criminal offending;
  • your visa can be revoked and you can be deported back to New Zealand if you commit an offence that results in a prison sentence of 1 year or more;
  • your visa can be revoked if you fail what is called the 'bad character test', meaning that you can be deported if you have served prison sentences that accumulate to 1 year or more timed serviced (for example, 2 sentences of six months, or 3 sentences of say 3-4 months each); and
  • you can also be deported if you are a permanent resident; if you have been one for less than ten years then once again, your status can be revoked if you are sentenced to a term in prison of 1 year or more.
The numbers of New Zealander's currently being held under these powers varies, but it appears that as of late October 2015 there are up to 200 New Zealander's being held in detention centres both around Australia, and, of particular concern to some, in this country's offshore detention centres, such as Christmas Island.  This fact is of concern to some because it is in these institutions that the Australian government detains refugee's, or as government officials prefer to call them, 'illegal economic migrants'; people fleeing countries experiencing civil war, or war perpetrated against them by Australia and its 'coalition of who gives a sh&t about international law'.

The rhetoric offered by government officials and member of Cabinet, including Prime Minister Turnbull when commenting on this issue to the media, usually consists of one or all of the following justifications:
  1. the people being detained and deported are serious offenders who pose a risk to the community;
  2. their deportation is important for 'keeping Australia safe'; and
  3. there is a process in place for review of the deportation process, which is open to all those detained.
However, the reality of who is being detained, their offending histories, and the process itself, exposes the self-serving nature of these justifications.

For a start, not all of the people detained and awaiting deportation are serious offenders, unless of course you consider people with low-level property offending, fraud, dishonesty-type offences as being a 'serious risk to the community'.  A nuisance yes, a serious threat? Probably not. And the reality is that many of those already deported and awaiting deportation fall into this category. Remember, you don't have to have committed a serious offence, such as one of the raft of violence related, or drug related offences; you can in fact be deported for a series of non-violent, and therefore in my opinion, non-serious offences which accumulate to 1 year or more time served in prison, to have your visa revoked under the character test. But this little inconvenient truth is often neatly passed over by officials and Cabinet Minister's, many of whom appear to be happy to erroneously portray the New Zealander's affected by the process as a bunch of violent, dangerous thugs.  Yes, some of them are, but many others are not.

Second, given some of the cases reported in New Zealand media of late, one has to question the veracity, indeed the ethics of the review process.  Take for example the recent case reported in the New Zealand Herald of a 56 year-old quadriplegic man deported with nothing but $200 and an accommodation voucher, but with no friends or family to take care of him when  he arrived.  This man had lived in Australia for 36 years before having his visa withdrawn.  His 'serious crime(s)' that demonstrated he was a danger to the Australian community?  Self-medicating drugs, painkillers for which he served 2 sentences totalling 13 months of prison time. Surely an ethical, just review process, as opposed to one that exists for appearances only, took into account the fact that a) his offending did not victimise others, b) his obvious health issues, and c) the social circumstances he faced if deported?  Sadly, or perhaps predictably, it did not.

Or what about Angela Russell, a 40 year-old who had lived in Australia for 37 years after moving from New Zealand as a child?  Her children, a boy aged 4 and a girl aged 17, are both Australian citizens. But 2 weeks before her release date from a short stint of imprisonment, she received a letter from the Australian government informing her she was to be deported because she had failed a 'character test'.

Ms Russell's is not the only incident where New Zealander's who have been, or are about to be deported, who are what some criminologists refer to as life-course persistent offenders.  They also have something else in common, the fact that they came to Australia at a very young age, and face deportation 15, 20 or even 30 years later. And it is this practice that reveals to me both the condescension and contradictions behind the Australian government's rationale for the process, and its ethical flaws.  In deporting such people, the Australian government is not exporting back to New Zealand  a crime, community safety and risk problem created by, or in New Zealand: in actuality the Australian government is exporting their crime problem to New Zealand. The condescension behind the Australian government's attempts to justify the process is evident in the fact that officials, and no doubt some Minister's of the Crown, are fully aware that they are exporting to New Zealand a problem created by the social, cultural and political environment of their country. They are cynically using their recently reconstituted 'white Australia' immigration and visa policies to export undesirable members of the Australian community to country's, such as New Zealand, that had little or no part to play in the deportee's becoming a 'risk' to society.  

As I write this blog, and if you believe the hype, both countries are gearing up for the rugby world cup final. A lot of the overblown bullsh&t and commentary in the formal and social media has included references to the fierce, yet generally respectful nature of the rivalry, often followed by a reference to this being forged on the battlefield of Gallipoli, as a contemporary manifestation of the ANZAC spirit, and so on. The same cannot be said for the way in which successive Australian governments have shafted New Zealander's in relation to social security, visa and now crime control policies. In stripping us of the rights that their own citizens enjoy when residing in my country, and because they are more than happy to pocket the millions in taxes we pay into the coffers each year while purposely exporting a crime control problem forged in their own backyard, Australian politicians and policy makers are demonstrating that at least on their side of the Tasman, the ANZAC spirit exists in rhetoric only.  

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