Some nationalities are over-represented in character cancellations. New Zealand citizens comprise approximately 10 percent of Australia’s migrant population, but over the last year, more than 46% of visa cancellations based on character grounds were New Zealand citizens.
At a press conference in Melbourne in July 2019, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described the ‘corrosive effect’ of the removal of New Zealanders under the amended law as a source of tension in the relationship between Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand High Commissioner Chris Seed raised several concerns with the Joint Standing Committee on Migration regarding the impact of s501 on citizens of New Zealand residing in Australia. In his submission to the ‘Report of the Inquiry into Review Processes Associated with Visa Cancellations made on Criminal Grounds’ (the ‘Report’, tabled in February 2019), he notes:
“New Zealanders are vulnerable to deportation because historically they have not had a strong incentive to take out citizenship because there was no need. Before 2001, New Zealand citizens in Australia could access most forms of social security without becoming citizens and could obtain Australian citizenship without having to become permanent residents first.”
New Zealanders have borne a disproportionate impact following the 2014 Migration Act amendments. Many New Zealanders may have limited awareness of the consequences of their visa status on their rights in Australia.