The Jovicic case highlights the risks that long term residents run in failing to take up Australian Citizenship. It is too early for us to determine whether Minister Ruddock exercised his powers validly as we do not have all the circumstances of the case. However the Commonwealth only has the power to deport a person if they are an immigrant or an alien.
In the Te case, our High court found that a non-citizen who had lived in Australia all their lives was still an “alien” and the Commonwealth was within its rights to deport them. While issues of statelessness were not raised in that case, the conservative nature of our current High Court suggests that such an argument would not succeed.
In any event, as Mr Jovicic is now in another place, it would be difficult to see how the provisions of the Migration Act would not apply to any application to bring him “home.”
The case only confirms that the Commonwealth has not learned from the Rau and Solon cases. If Mr Jovicic’s deportation had been the subject of a judicial review, then his personal circumstances and the appropriateness of deportation would have been formally considered by an independent arbiter.
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Far from learning the critical lessons from recent inquiries, the Commonwealth has set about dismantling the legal rights of detainees by establishing strict time limits for appeals, creating the threat of costs orders against solicitors and legal representatives who act for detainees and limiting the rights of detainees to seek a judicial review of their cases.
Mr Jovicic’s case highlights the heartlessness of this Government and its immigration system. I had hoped that after Vivian Solon and Cornelia Rau that this sort of cruelty would abate, but it has not.