Australian policy under scrutiny as man faces deportation to Ireland
Melbourne man claims to have lost passport while holidaying in Ireland and returned on Irish document
Melbourne man Daniel Smyth faces deportation to Ireland despite, he says, having been born in Australia. Image: Thinkstock
Australia’s new prime minister Malcolm Turnbull flew to New Zealand on Friday for his first official state visit. Item number one on the agenda when he meets his counterpart, John Key, is the number of New Zealanders being deported from Australia.
The trans-Tasman meeting comes as Melbourne man Daniel Smyth faces deportation to Ireland despite, he says, having been born in Australia.
The issue has become so contentious in recent months the Australian and New Zealand Green parties have jointly lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Most New Zealanders in Australia have a visa rather than an Australian passport, even if they have spent most of their life in Australia. But if they commit a crime that is punished by a prison sentence of 12 months or more, their visa can be revoked and the person deported.
Mr Smyth (44) has been jailed twice for theft and burglary, but says he has turned his life around after he stopped taking heroin five years ago.
He claims to have lost his Australian passport while holidaying in Ireland in 1997 and that he subsequently returned to Australia on an Irish passport he got through his father.
His trouble started last December when he applied for an Australian passport to travel to Thailand. But instead of a new passport he got a bridging visa and was told this could be cancelled because he could be considered to not be of “good character”.
The department of immigration told Melbourne’s Age newspaper how an Australian could lose their citizenship. “Information provided by Mr Smyth indicates that he may have lost his Australian citizenship in 1992. Due to the situation that before 4 April 2002, the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 provided for the automatic loss of Australian citizenship in some circumstances where an Australian citizen acquired the citizenship of another country.”
Two months ago an Irish Vietnam war veteran who faced deportation from Australia after spending time in prison was granted a reprieve. Michael McFadden (69) moved from Dublin to Australia at the age of 10. In the late 1960s he served 10 months in Vietnam. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and has alcohol dependency and brain damage.
Mr McFadden thought he had become an Australian citizen, but when he was jailed last year it was discovered he just had permanent residency. He was saved from being sent back to Ireland by the direct intervention of the minister for immigration, Peter Dutton.
Mr Smyth, who has two children, aged 11 and 13, says he was surprised to discover there was a problem. “I’m Australian as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “Seeing I do not have the old [IRISH]passport, I would need to reapply for Irish citizenship again. So, that tells me I may not still have the Irish citizenship anyway, which would make me stateless.”