Charter flights remove New Zealand criminals from Australia

A total of 31 New Zealand citizens have been removed from Australia on two charter flights, after their visas were cancelled on character grounds.

Among the group was high profile outlaw motorcycle gang member Mr Mace Sitope, who until recently was the President of the Victorian chapter of the Rebels. Mr Sitope has been known by various aliases including Ray Siloi and Ray Elise.

Mr Sitope’s criminal record includes physical assault and violence, possession of firearms as well as standover and other intimidation offences.

Of the others removed, convictions included armed robbery, aggravated burglary, unlawful assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, contravention of family violence order, recklessly causing injury, obtaining property by deception and unlawful use of motor vehicles.

ABF Commander for Field Operations, Ben Biddington, said the removal of these people to New Zealand highlighted the ABF’s continued resolve to remove dangerous people from the Australian community.

“Non-citizens who do not satisfy the character test have no right to remain, and will be removed from Australia,” Commander Biddington said.

“The Australian Government is responsible for protecting the community from the risk of harm arising from foreign nationals who choose to engage in criminal activity. The majority of those persons removed had their visas cancelled under s501 of the Migration Act.”

“Since the rules around mandatory visa cancellation were strengthened in December 2014, a total of 2877 New Zealand citizens had have their visas cancelled under the character provisions of the Migration Act,” Commander Biddington said.

There are provisions under the Migration Act 1958 that allow the Minister for Home Affairs to cancel a visa if a person is considered to not be of good character. A person can fail the character test for a number of reasons, including but not limited to circumstances where a non-citizen has a substantial criminal record.