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Batemans Bay grandfather to be deported on Thursday

Ian Campbell 21 April 2018 93
David Degning and his daughters Rachael and Sharon. Photo: Sharon Degning.

David Degning and his daughters Rachael and Sharon. Photo: Sharon Degning.

A Batemans Bay grandfather is in Villawood Detention Centre awaiting deportation back to the United Kingdom on Thursday.

Family, friends, and supporters say David Degning was bundled out of his home in handcuffs at dawn three months ago by 16 Border Force officers.

Jody Warren has known Mr Degning for 30 years and says he is scared, confused, and feels out of place in the Sydney detention centre.

“Dave says most of the people in there have come from jail, serious offenders – murder, armed assault,” she says.

“And those people coming out of jail are telling Dave conditions in jail are much better than in the detention centre.”

Mr Degning came to Australia with his family in 1968 at the age of seven, his father also settled in Batemans Bay, where Mr Degning has raised two daughters and runs his own house painting business, while his wife works at the hospital.

“He hasn’t had the easiest life, its been one bad hand after another,” Ms Warren says.

“Dave’s son was killed tragically in an accident when he was two and his daughter’s husband has recently died, so this is just too much for them.”

Supporters have launched a petition calling on the Immigration Department to “keep David Degning with his family” which includes his three grandchildren and two sisters and a brother in Sydney.

Moruya Anglican Minister, Rev Linda Chapman has been offering pastoral care and support to Mr Degning and his family. “It beggars’ belief that this is happening in our country. He is due to be deported to the UK, where he knows no-one, this coming Thursday,” she says.

“All Australians should be aware of the processes that Immigration and Border Force are now enacting in this country,” Rev Chapman says.

In looking for an explanation, some sort of bad character judgment seems to have been made by the Immigration Department.

“Dave is one of those people that everyone knows, but he has gotten into trouble with the law over the years,” Ms Warren explains.

“When he was about 21 he was arrested for theft and spent a few months in jail, since then he has had a number of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) convictions but hasn’t been sent to jail.”

Ms Warren believes deportation for historical crimes where a punishment has been served is unjust and out of proportion and doesn’t take into account the fullness of Mr Degning’s life.

When it comes to Mr Degning’s citizenship status and legal right to be here, it seems Mr Degning, along with his father, brother and sisters thought they were “adsorbed citizens” when they arrived in Australia 50 years ago.

In circumstances that sound similar to those of the recent citizenship saga in Federal Parliament, Mr Degning thought he was a citizen and entitled to live in Batemans Bay with his Australian born wife, children, and grandchildren.

Mr Degning did receive notification in 2017 that his place in Australia was being questioned by the Immigration Department. Ms Warren says paperwork arrived out of the blue that asked her 50-something-year-old friend to explain why he shouldn’t be deported.

Ms Warren says the Degning’s were a little concerned but thought it was just a procedural matter that would be worked through sensibly and fairly.

“And then on the 25th of January at 5 am in the morning 16 Border Force people burst into their home, handcuffed him, put him in a car and took him to Villawood Detention Centre and he has been there ever since,” she says.

“The whole street was in shock, it’s taken a while for people to digest it.

“His family are in a dreadful state, they feel like they will never see him again,” Ms Warren says.

The petition set up to advocate for Mr Degning has reached 773 signatures and with his deportation looming in just a handful of days a number of people in the Eurobodalla community, including the Refugee Action Collective have started lobbying the Immigration Minister.

“The authoritarian powers of the Minister concerned, Peter Dutton, seem to be beyond normal judicial processes,” Rev Champman says.

“Quite frankly it sends shivers down my spine that we are seeing this kind of Orwellian behaviour by our government.

“Dave is an ordinary man who is now being torn away from his whole family, his business, his life by a Government Minister and Department whose powers have quietly and stealthily been on the rise over the last few years,” Rev Chapman says.

It’s hoped action in the High Court this week might buy some time or bring clarity.

“Meanwhile Dave waits at Villawood to be deported,” Rev Chapman says.

Batemans Bay MP, Member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis was approached for comment. Her office says its a matter for the Immigration Department. A spokesperson for the Immigration Department says a response is being considered.

What's Your Opinion?

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93 Responses to Batemans Bay grandfather to be deported on Thursday
James Smith James Smith 7:30 pm 21 Apr 18

The instances reported don’t appear to be of the seriousness to warrant removal from Australia. They were minor in the scale of offences and the separation from his wife and his extended family. I think its unreasonable.

    Andrea Kerr Andrea Kerr 12:45 am 22 Apr 18

    If we have the whole story

    Rachael Degning Rachael Degning 9:02 am 22 Apr 18

    You have that's why it's so stupid. My dad is my dad his a good man. Stuffed up when he was young. Doesn't deserve to be able to have a family here then ripped away. It feels like life support not fair

Phillip Wurst Phillip Wurst 7:27 pm 21 Apr 18

I sympathise with the guy, but I'm in two minds about him staying.

Here's what is bugging me.

He's been here for 50 years and he's never even bothered to vote? He thought he was a citizen this whole time and this whole time, he's never cared to (I base this off the assumption that had he tried to vote, he would've found out whether or not he was a citizen) and then never thought it was weird he didn't get fined for not voting?

    Carolyn Spooner Carolyn Spooner 9:20 pm 21 Apr 18 British citizens who were here before 1984 can vote without being a citizen

    Leanne Masters Leanne Masters 9:28 pm 21 Apr 18

    My mum didn’t even know she wasn’t a citizen till she tried to get a passport around 1993. She came here in the early 60s. Once she discovered it she got citizenship. My uncle still hasn’t, and even though he had an Australian passport while serving in the Australian army, he could only get a british passport for a recent overseas trip.

    Kerry Apted Kerry Apted 11:56 pm 21 Apr 18

    I voted legally for years without being a citizen.

    Andrea Kerr Andrea Kerr 12:45 am 22 Apr 18

    Leanne Masters military members are required to gain citizenship

    Phillip Wurst Phillip Wurst 8:53 am 22 Apr 18

    Fair enough then.

    Thanks for the education guys.

    Debby Phillips Debby Phillips 2:09 pm 22 Apr 18

    Carolyn, its not if he has arrived before 1984, he had to have already enrolled to vote prior to 1984 to be able to continue to vote.

Penny Papps Penny Papps 6:27 pm 21 Apr 18

Sudmalis os not going to be there soon

Jo Dodds Jo Dodds 6:15 pm 21 Apr 18

Signed. Shared.

Angela Thomas Angela Thomas 6:00 pm 21 Apr 18

So why did he not take out citizenship in those 50 years?

    Marilyn Shepherd Marilyn Shepherd 7:49 pm 21 Apr 18

    Because he didn't have to.

    Merran Furness Merran Furness 7:53 am 22 Apr 18

    Giles British citizens who arrived before 1984 can vote. There is a link to the aec site lower in the thread 🙂

    Lynne Ryan Lynne Ryan 9:51 am 22 Apr 18

    Giles Tranter he is registered to vote and has voted.Also has a Medicare card

Stephen Page-Murray Stephen Page-Murray 5:49 pm 21 Apr 18

All started with SIEV-X and then Children Overboard. Now it’s come to this

Tony Cullinan Tony Cullinan 5:19 pm 21 Apr 18

This is a failing of government, an undermining of due process and the undermining of judicial checks and balances required in a free society.

    Rachel Miller Rachel Miller 6:31 pm 21 Apr 18

    Surely a failing of the legal system?

    Tony Cullinan Tony Cullinan 7:45 pm 21 Apr 18

    No Rachel The point is that the government has set the legislation such that decisions lie solely with the minister and those decisions are not subject to judicial review. It is therefore a failure of government to ensure decisions can be reviewed in an appropriate case. It was designed to cut out due process.

    Rachel Miller Rachel Miller 7:56 pm 21 Apr 18

    and probably save money.

    What's the difference between legislation and law?

    Tony Cullinan Tony Cullinan 8:03 pm 21 Apr 18

    That's a complex question. What we are talking about in this context is the failure to maintain processesbin the context of the doctrine of the separation of powers. A bit much to really go into depth on a fb post....

    Rachel Miller Rachel Miller 8:24 pm 21 Apr 18


    I'll ask you in person then,later. Cause now I'm interested.

    Tony Cullinan Tony Cullinan 8:30 pm 21 Apr 18

    Look up separation of powers. The idea is to separate the various arms of government into three branches. the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. The idea is to divide power so its not absolute. (Power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely). The idea is to have a system of checks and balances. So in this case the law was passed to give the minister the ultimate decision and it is not subject to judicial review. Therefore the concept of the separation of powers has been undermined and the government retains absolute power if that makes sense.

    Rachel Miller Rachel Miller 9:01 pm 21 Apr 18

    yeah it makes sense. Unfortunately.

    Jenny McInnes Jenny McInnes 10:23 am 22 Apr 18

    This is why "Home Affairs" has been set up. To have powers above and beyond the law. Unfortunately everyday Australians have been blind to many of the legislation that has been passed to make it happen. Thinking it will only be used for "terrorists" and data hacking etc when in fact it can be used by the Govt for how they see fit under the broad term of the legislations

    Frances Cullinan Frances Cullinan 11:38 am 22 Apr 18

    The article says... deportation for historical crimes where a punishment has been served is unjust and out of proportion and doesn’t take into account the fullness of Mr Degning’s life.

    We have no idea if there are any other crimes/reasons for the government to do this to anybody 🤔

Graeme Stewart Graeme Stewart 5:19 pm 21 Apr 18

Surely there has to be more to his story....

    Kim Willis Kim Willis 3:37 pm 22 Apr 18

    Sadly there isn't

    Jackson Bond Jackson Bond 7:11 am 11 May 18

    Graeme Stewart Graeme Stewart 7:18 am 11 May 18

    Well, there you have it....

Wing Nut Wing Nut 5:18 pm 21 Apr 18

Disgraceful. I hope the Batemans Bay residents dispatch Ann Sudmails at the next election.

Maria Sutton Maria Sutton 4:37 pm 21 Apr 18

What did he do?

    Roberta Lynne Anning Roberta Lynne Anning 4:46 pm 21 Apr 18

    When he was a teenager/20's he committed some crimes, dui. It is disgraceful.

Glynis Quinlan Glynis Quinlan 4:33 pm 21 Apr 18

This is dreadful!

Kristen Louise Kristen Louise 4:21 pm 21 Apr 18

Oh FFS !! What about all the Apex thugs and terrorists ????

Alice Leda Shornwoolly Lamb Alice Leda Shornwoolly Lamb 4:13 pm 21 Apr 18

Sounds too weird to be happening in Oz. Scary

David Murn David Murn 4:10 pm 21 Apr 18

Ann Sudmalis MP, Federal Member for Gilmore, your office has stated that you will not comment, as this is a matter for the Immigration department. However, isn't the sole purpose of your job to represent and act on behalf of your constituents in regards to the federal government?

When a person who has lived here for 50 years, and lives in your electorate, needs representation to the federal government, it seems to make sense that as the federal member for the area, you are the best placed to make representations for him.

    Tony Cullinan Tony Cullinan 5:16 pm 21 Apr 18

    I just thought similarly. The members resonse is disgraceful.

    Doug Hodgson Doug Hodgson 6:00 pm 21 Apr 18

    Hear hear

    Sue N John Collins Sue N John Collins 6:11 pm 21 Apr 18

    Just like the UK border patrol. Deporting people who came under different rules from today’s and being sent “back”.

    Kate Carey Kate Carey 7:33 pm 21 Apr 18

    So he is a citizen and enrolled to vote then? So many grey areas.

    Kerry Apted Kerry Apted 7:45 am 23 Apr 18

    Kate Carey he doesnt have be a citizen and in his circumstances he could vote without being a citizen.

Carrie Wright Carrie Wright 3:51 pm 21 Apr 18

Signed and shared

Jasmin Ately Jasmin Ately 3:44 pm 21 Apr 18

This is unbelievable.

Keran Niquet Keran Niquet 3:39 pm 21 Apr 18

I thought the gestapo were disbanded in 1945!

Andrew Nelson Andrew Nelson 3:27 pm 21 Apr 18

Law only applies if you're a specific colour.

    David Blundell David Blundell 4:40 pm 22 Apr 18

    law applies to all they only took 50 years to find this guy way to go immigration dept

Roberta Lynne Anning Roberta Lynne Anning 3:08 pm 21 Apr 18

And yet the apex gang members get a slap on the wrist and released.

    Roberta Lynne Anning Roberta Lynne Anning 6:04 pm 22 Apr 18

    So. They are still violent criminals.

June Kirk June Kirk 2:55 pm 21 Apr 18

"16 Border Force people burst into their home" this is totally absurd!!! Peter Dutton you make me ashamed to be Australian!

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