There’s never been a better time to become an Australian citizen
Thursday November 24th 2005, 9:32 am

Robert Jovicic (image: ABC TV)There has been a series of Australian Government advertisements running on TV for several years which exhort Permanent Residents to adopt Australian citizenship, claiming that there has never been a better time to become an Australian citizen. Here’s reason number 672.

Robert Jovicic was born in France in 1966 to Serbian parents. When he was 2 years old in 1968, Jovicic migrated with his parents to Australia.

Fast forward to 2004.

After living in Australia for 36 years, Jovicic became addicted to heroin. He committed a series of burglaries to support his drug habit. The Immigration Minister at the time of Jovicic’s deportation, Phillip Ruddock, invalidated Jovicic’s Permanent Residency visa and ordered him deported- to Serbia. Jovicic’s main family unit is in Melbourne, as is his wife. His father does live in Serbia, but Jovicic has been estranged from him for many years. Jovicic speaks no Serbian, only English.

Jovicic had never set foot in Serbia prior to being deported. Serbia has refused to grant him citizenship, which makes him ineligible to work or receive any benefits- and renders him stateless. Jovicic can not even get a passport to travel elsewhere. He is now destitute and is sleeping on the steps to the Australian Embassy in Belgrade, in hopes he can persuade the Embassy to repatriate him to Melbourne.

It is illegal under international human rights law to render a person stateless.  It is simply immoral to deposit a person in a land unknown to them, where that person may not even speak the local language. You may as well throw them in the sea. Remarkably, deporting Jovicic was within Ruddock’s rights on character grounds under Australian immigration law.

It is even more remarkable that one of the tests to determine if a person is not of character suiting continued permanent residency is if one "incite(s) discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community." Permanent Residents would be well advised to mind their political tongues in Australia. Visitors are in even worse stead with political expressions when we consider the deportation of Scott Parkin.

In no way am I registering approval of Jovicic’s use of heroin nor the crimes he committed to obtain money to feed his habit. However, Jovicic is a result of Australian society and drug policy. While Australia is not specifically responsible for Jovicic’s drug use or associated crimes, Australia is responsible for the society that made Jovicic’s habits possible. Drug abuse is an illness which requires social support and medical intervention for a user to have even the remotest hope of recovery. Jailing or throwing drug users out of the country absolutely will not cure them. Quite to the contrary- casting an addict adrift will assuredly make their predicament even worse, if not kill them.

Had Jovicic adopted Australian citizenship, he would still be here, where he might have a chance of being treated for his addiction. As it stands, he is penniless, stateless and may not travel- and is sleeping outdoors, in freezing temperatures, despite the Australian Embassy in Belgrade recently providing him three nights in a hotel room. Not only are Jovicic’s prospects for recovery in Serbia simply nil, the likelihood of his surviving the snowy Serbian winter living rough is equally slim.

Jovicic’s only known home is Australia- and he should be repatriated at once. Australian immigration law should be amended to prevent deportation of people who have significant family or relationship ties to Australia and have no experience with residing anywhere else in their living memory. Moreover, despite his acts, the punishment of deportation is disproportionate to Jovicic’s crimes.

I know one or two senators who read mgk. A private members bill, please?


10 Comments so far
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Nice post Weez. Agree totally.

Comment by Guy 11.24.05 @ 11:18 am

Thanks, Guy.

My greatest concern for Jovicic is that being from Melbourne, he won’t even have the basic personal safety knowledge necessary to survive in a snowy climate- that is with all of his fingers and toes attached. ‘Frostbite’ is something out of the movies for Jovicic. People from Melbourne think it is ‘freezing’ when it’s 10C. Losing fingers and toes in -10C weather won’t have ever occurred to them.

Comment by weezil 11.24.05 @ 1:19 pm

The government has deported this man, who has been brought up as an Australian, for being a drug addict who committed crimes to support his habit.
The government is trying to get clemency for a man trying to import drugs into Australia (I don’t condone the death penalty).
Once again the oportunistic Howard is publicly using one to try and put a human face to this government and leaving the other literally out in the snow.
Is Jovicic muslim serb or catholic serb? It seems to make a difference to them in Canberra.

Comment by JahTeh 11.24.05 @ 6:47 pm

[…] Update: Alternative accounts by The Cassandra Complex and Machine Gun Keyboard. […]

Pingback by » Robert Jovicic’s Deportion is legal but most UnAustralian! 11.24.05 @ 6:55 pm

So Jovicic slipped through Liberal Jeff Kennett’s Beyond Blue then? There is a reason he is a junkie and that has not been addressed. I am wondering how many foreign nationals are in our gaols who could be immediately sent back from whence they came, Would save us a couple of bucks. Pollies need to discover that we require a consistent experience, not a random selection of deportees.
Four score and seven years ago our forefathers brought forth a neeeeeeeew nation. Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that aaaaaaalllllll men are created equal! ah say aaaaaalll men!

Comment by Brownie 11.25.05 @ 6:02 pm

JT, I can’t comment on Jovicic’s religion, but I can say that he wreaked a lot of havoc in Melbourne, having been convicted on 158 charges of theft and burglary.

He certainly earned the attention of the criminal justice system, but there’s no proportionality in deporting the guy to a place he’d never seen, where he doesn’t even know how to ask a local for a glass of water.

Comment by weezil 11.25.05 @ 6:18 pm

Brownie, most drug users are attempting to self medicate one condition or another. Heroin is just about the wrong drug for anything other than an amputation, though.

Abe said that in 1863. I believe he probably meant it, but you couldn’t have convinced Rosa Parks.

Comment by weezil 11.25.05 @ 7:38 pm

my brother was also deported to last year, he lived in australia 21 years, his whole family are citizens, in 93 he was wrongfully convicted of murder and finally acquitted in 2003, on release instead of offering him counselling, he went straight back onto the street to selfmedicate, resulting in a family argument and the police swat team was involved, what a joke. In 1993 the prison doctor told him he was schizophrenic and needed medication, so for 9 years the prison gave him anti-schiz medication. They deported him to bosnia (he has never been there, does not speak,read or write the language, has no hope of any sort. When they deported him they made a deal he was supposed to be deported to croatia where he was born, but they wouldn’t take him and therefore they threw him into bosnia where only his father was born in 1939 and left 1941, and has not been back since. My brother grew up in Germany since he was 2 years old prior to coming to Australia. They escorted him with 3 prison guards to bosnia, drugged him for the whole way, on arrival his suitcase was missing, he was uncuffed at the airport, and left with 4 anti-schizophenia tablets, he was robbed of all his money, his gold crucifix and luggage in the first week of arrival, and the bosnian government didn’t even known what he is doing there. What is going on with the australian immigration department and the government in general, have they lost all they humanity, isn’t this country made by lost causes & deportees from England……is this government run by freemasons with no heart??????????? How can a permanent resident suddenly be deported to a country he doesn’t know, and rendered an illegal alien???? By the way he has been diagnosed by doctors over there that he is NOT schizophrenic and was suffering from drug induced psychosis….. no wonder, they drugged him good for 9 years of anti schizo drugs, he now has memory loss like black holes of things he just can’t remember. If that wasn’t enough, last year the herald sun ran two or three articles that he had been killed in a nightclub brawl in bosnia, who or what possessed them to write an article like that just leaves me speculating about the corrupt police that were involved in the murder trial in the first place…. The legal system stinks of corruption in Melbourne, and not to mention Amanda Vanstone and her immigration bullies….. Thanks for your time.

Comment by juricsilvia 11.25.05 @ 11:09 pm

Hi juricsilvia,

While I am very disturbed to read about your brother’s deportation, I can’t say I’m surprised. I’m very concerned about the notion that he may have had some mental illness which was exacerbated by street drugs and later was ‘chemically restrained’ by Australian authorities.

I have a strong suspicion that we are going to be hearing more tales about people who have been drugged and spirited out of Australia. Permanent Residents are in particular danger as just about any reason can be found to legally remove them from Australia. I’m quite surprised that Cornelia Rau wasn’t deported.

Normally, a Permanent Resident might think they have little to worry about as they are eligible to work and receive benefits such as for unemployment and medical care in Aus. The main difference between a Permanent Resident and a citizen is that Permanent Residents cannot vote nor hold public office. Otherwise, it’s not a concern.

You should consider going a bit more public with your story, perhaps setting up a little informational website.

Comment by weezil 11.26.05 @ 8:28 am

[…] You can presume that Ruddock is the worst case for an Attorney General. If any legal sanction is possible, you can be sure Ruddock will exercise it. If we don’t want people jailed for criticising the government or detained incommunicado without appropriate, confidential access to legal counsel, it should never be legally possible for the Attorney General to do so. […]

Pingback by mgk: Machine Gun Keyboard 11.29.05 @ 10:20 am

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