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?
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