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Batemans Bay grandfather to be deported on Thursday

Ian Campbell 21 April 2018
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 Change.org 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 Change.org 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.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

What's Your Opinion?

150 Responses to Batemans Bay grandfather to be deported on Thursday

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Maddy 1:10 pm 12 May 18

Um why didn’t you mention he is a sex offender? he raped someone and didn’t go to jail for it so that’s why he’s being deported?? Typical always trying to defend and save the rapists.

    Ian Campbell 10:35 am 14 May 18

    Hi Maddy, this has been an unfolding story, those details werent available at the time this story was published. This is the updated story - https://aboutregional.com.au/batemans-bays-david-degning-highlights-a-bigger-issue/ Cheers Ian

R Briancourt. 11:29 pm 30 Apr 18

It Bega (beggars) belief that this can happen here.

This government stinks when it comes to human rights.

Stop this ridiculous situation now.

Alison Keene 8:30 am 26 Apr 18

I arrived in Australia from the UK just over 50 Years ago as a four year old, similar to Dave’s situation. I was told by my parents that we had Permanent Residency. I took their word for it, as they took the Australian government’s word for it. What has suddenly changed? I don’t recall ever hearing about a ‘unless you get charged with DUI, in which case you could be deported at any later date’ clause. Should all ‘Ten Pound Poms’ with any sort of criminal record be expecting a bang on the front door at 0500?? This is outrageous.

    Greg 9:24 am 29 Apr 18

    Permanent residency is not citizenship and in fact citizenship is not a protection from being deported if you still hold another citizenship. In such cases citizenship can be revoked.

Margaret Hogewind 11:43 am 25 Apr 18

Gobsmacked by this news. Send the guy back to his family in Batemans Bay and stop wasting taxpayers money. Just too ridiculous

Susheela Millburn 12:47 am 25 Apr 18

Goodness me, haven't Border Force got a host of better things to do. Utterly unfair!!! Ridiculous. Orwellian indeed. Australia seems to have become a nasty place....

Victoria Pitel 12:29 am 25 Apr 18

Shocking!!

Joy Spence 9:59 pm 24 Apr 18

Keep him here

E Hooper 5:20 pm 24 Apr 18

In 1959 migrating UK parents were told by authorities, at the Brooklyn Hostel in Melbourne, that after two years they would be Australian citizens. And the children of these UK migrating parents were told they were automatic citizens. Somewhere along the line the Australian Government has changed all the rules and forgot to tell the UK migrants. Unjust!!

    Cassandra 5:22 pm 22 Aug 18

    Thoroughly agree. That wasthe information given to my parents and thousands of other Brits. to encourage them to come to Australia.

Joe Baskwell 3:31 pm 24 Apr 18

This is a disgrace. Any humane administration would look at the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law. Unfortunately Basil Fawlty was right whn he commented 'this is just how Nazi Germany started".

Wendy Robles 8:35 am 24 Apr 18

This is tragic. It is a result of technology, suddenly they have software that matches Immigration records, citizenship records and criminal records,following some sort of formula; computers do not have flexibility or consideration of other circumstances or a person's entire life. This shouldn't be retrospective, his convictions are historical and did not involve jail time. Also, he has a job, a business, he has a family, has been living here for 50 years, since he was seven years old, he is not a terrorist. The computer has bundled him in with people who arrived here two years ago, have committed crimes for which they have been jailed and have no family or other history here.

Jan van Dalfsen 11:53 pm 23 Apr 18

This is totally disgusting. If you have done the time for the crime, that should be the end of it. Mr Dutton should not have this extra judicial power to wreck a family.

Jurate Grigonis 11:42 pm 23 Apr 18

For goodness' sake, he was a child when he came to Australia in 1968. At that time British migrants could choose to become citizens but many did not as there was really no need. Things changed around 1983 or 84 with voting rights in Australian elections, ie. anyone who arrived after that, had to be an Australian citizen to be able to vote here, plus a couple of other things required citizenship. I really do not understand why Immigration are acting like this as he should, for all intents and purposes, be considered Australian. So he has had a few difficulties along the way. So have plenty of people born here! Deportation is a most unreasonable action and quite unnecessary. If he has served his time or whatever, leave him be with his family here and let him get on with his life.

Tracey 10:06 pm 23 Apr 18

If he arrived here as a “ 10 pound “ Pom, as a lot were 50 years ago, we were all led to believe we were here to stay. Unofficial Aussies. Nobody has the right to just barge in an steal someone away especially the government without due cause.

The government officials are letting in rapists, murderers & terrorists, all under the guise of refugees.

Bloggers that won’t work, won’t assimilate , all they want is free hand outs.

These people ge5 a free ride in and this gentleman get hoisted out ?

WHERE IS THE FAIRNESS THERE ?

Ralph 9:19 pm 23 Apr 18

Dutton is a dangerous and evil man of despicable character. Naziesque stuff

clara 8:22 pm 23 Apr 18

Power in the wrong hands...Dave should stay, no doubt about it.

Robyn 8:10 pm 23 Apr 18

Why is this man in Villawood when the "illegal" politicians weren't even arrested?

Robyne Wood 7:41 pm 23 Apr 18

the minister is out of control, why can't they use some common sense. Dave is defacto, an Aussie.

Louis Butcher 7:38 pm 23 Apr 18

I disagree with the Rev Chapman regarding the Govenment Minister and his or her Departments power being quietly and stealthy being on the rise over the last few years.

We, the people of Australia continually asked the Government to do something about the illegal enters into our country. He has been caught up in a net that was put out to reduce the numbers of legal enters.

Had this gentleman done something to be spotlighted by the Border Police?

Someone or something has created the interest of the Border Police. Other being a dual citizen.

The has to be more to this case!

Robert Kelly 6:46 pm 23 Apr 18

Dave has an Australian wife, kids and grandkids born here. This is an Australian family, running a legitimate small business; sending him to another country will disrupt a family which no doubt would need social services support. How illogical is thaf? Let him revoke any citizenship in the UK and apply for Australian citizenship if he is prepared to do so.

Rosalind. Gerchow 4:37 pm 23 Apr 18

This is not commensurate with living in a democracy. I believe that Peter Dutton is an evil and extremely dangerous, manwith no empathy, conscience or kindness and too much power. Mr Degnings sounds like a true blue Aussie to me and should be returned to his family immediately, with compensation for loss of business during this debacle.

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