Australian tribunal says Kiwi crim more likely to rehabilitate there than here, but deports him anyway

A man who's lived in Australia since he was nine is being deported to New Zealand, despite the tribunal that made the call agreeing it would harm his chances of rehabilitation.

The latest case of a New Zealand-born person being sent back across the ditch despite having no family ties is a man who was sentenced to three years in jail on drugs charges. On this basis, Australia cancelled his visa in August 2018.

The man - who has been issued a confidentiality order due to being a victim of domestic violence in New Zealand - appealed the decision at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal - but lost. 

"I have nowhere to live, nowhere to go and no supports," the man told the appeal, according to a ruling posted on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal website.

His problems began in 2008 when he was still a teenager, robbing homes while high on cannabis. He's had a string of convictions since then, which he admitted were difficult to recall because he was "usually on drugs at the time" - mostly "ice", the Australian slang term for methamphetamine. 

He told the tribunal he cleaned up during his latest stint in prison - the result of a parole breach - and hasn't used drugs for two years now, despite regularly being offered "homebrew" formulas by other inmates behind bars.  

"My addiction has ruined my life. It is hard to explain how much being on ice takes over your life," he said. "When I was on it, it was all I could think about, including how I could get it, when I could use it, how to get more of it. It made me desperate."

The only family he has in New Zealand is his biological father, with whom he has no contact.

"I'm worried my biological father will find out I'm being deported. I visited him in 2014 to try to reconnect with him, and he was very violent and abusive to me. I left New Zealand without telling him."

Without support in a country he's never lived in as an adult, the man fears relapsing into his old ways. If he stays in Australia, he says he's got an apprenticeship lined up at his brother's mechanics shop and is "committed" to drug rehab "more than I have ever been". 

"Being deported to New Zealand would be a nightmare... I have nowhere to live and I know no one there who could support me. I have no contacts or job links I could use."

The man says his mother's health has gone downhill since finding out her son is to be deported - including suffering a stroke.

"My deportation would mean I most likely never see my mum and sister again," he told the tribunal. "They can't travel overseas due to their health issues."

But the tribunal rejected all his arguments.

"The applicant's past conduct is a good indicator that he is likely to relapse into drug use even if he has a job, and this would almost inevitably lead to re-offending, the risk of more lives being ruined, and that risk is unacceptable."

In a perhaps cruel twist, the tribunal acknowledged the man would likely have "a better prospect of re-establishing himself in society than he would if deported", but there was a "very real likelihood that this applicant will engage in further criminal or other serious conduct", so he'll be palmed off to New Zealand.

Around a third of all Kiwis deported from Australia in recent years haven't lived here for more than a decade, Stuff reported. Most have drug offences.