Immigration

'Expect to be booted out': Peter Dutton talks tough on foreign born criminals

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has hinted at looking at changing laws to cancel the visas of foreign criminals, and deport them. Source: AAP

New laws could see the visas of criminals convicted of serious offences automatically cancelled and give government the power to deport non-citizens as young as 16.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton doesn't want criminals becoming Australian citizens, suggesting a plan to automatically cancel the visas of those convicted of serious criminal offences.

Speaking on 3AW radio, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said people shouldn't be rewarded for doing the wrong thing.

"Ninety-nine per cent of people who come to our country do the right thing - abide by the laws,” he said.

“If they don't and they commit an offence against an Australian citizen then they should expect to be booted out of our country.”

He said Australians should abide by the law even when they don’t agree with them – however he’s flagged looking at ways to “improve” them when it comes to citizenship.

The visa crackdown, proposed recently by a Liberal-led parliamentary committee, would give the government the power to deport violent foreign born criminals as young as age 16.

'Unfair and unlawful': Greens

In January 2017, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton commented that migrants who commit violent crimes should be "shipped back to their own country".

An unknown number of adults and youths have been referred by Victorian authorities to the federal government, resulting in several visa cancellations and deportation orders.

The Greens mounted a strong opposition to the Turnbull government's proposed changes to the nation's citizenship laws, which were ultimately rejected by the Senate in October.

These included requiring applicants to live in Australia for four years on permanent residency visas before applying for citizenship, and potentially barring people with a history of family violence or involvement in crime from applying at all.

They also extended Peter Dutton's powers.

Tasmanian Greens Senator Nick McKim said the Minister already has strong authority.

“He already has extraordinary powers, he already has the power to deport the people he says he wants to deport,” he said.

“The problem is he's not using these powers lawfully and in accordance with the legislation."

The Greens said the Minister’s plan is unfair and unlawful.

Labor has also criticised the government for what it is an unfair emphasis on crime committed by migrants and refugees, but has supported moves to cancel visas and deporting non-citizen criminals.

Unwelcome guests

Peter Dutton isn't the only one wanting more powers, with a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper revealing officials in the Department of Home Affairs want more scope to deal with the tens of thousands of visa overstayers living in Australia.

While a quarter of the migrants are from Malaysia or China, 5,000 are from the United States and close to 4,000 are British.

In July last year, there were almost 65,000 lapsed visa holders, the majority having entered on tourist or student visas.

Senator McKim said the numbers show the government has been demonising the wrong sector of the community.

"Overwhelmingly, the largest number of people who are in Australia unlawfully, are people who've arrived in Australia by air, in the main, with a current visa, and then have overstayed once that visa has expired,” he said.

“This absolutely shows that Peter Dutton's so-called focus on border control by attacking and ill-treating people who have arrived by boat seeking asylum in Australia is nothing other than a political fig leaf."

The federal opposition has raised concerns over visa overstayers impacting wages, worker exploitation and local workers missing out on jobs.

In a statement, the party has blamed the federal government for not doing enough to solve the problem.

"Workers overstaying their visa in Australia are easily exploited and ripped off by unscrupulous employers,” it read.

“It's untenable to have thousands of visa overstayers working illegally in jobs that could be filled with local workers. Under Turnbull and his Liberals, Australia is headed for a race to the bottom on wages and conditions."

Greens Senator Nick McKim said while these are relevant concerns, they're only being raised to distract from the main issue.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch