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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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Nick Hopkins 4:25 pm 21 Apr 18

This type of incident reminds me of the tactics of a fascist state not a modern day democracy. Peter Dutton is guilty of enormous overreach and is displaying all the compassion of a psychopath, that is, none. He has also underestimated the anger in the community around his treatment of refugees. This incident only fans the flames of that anger

Nick Hopkins 4:34 pm 21 Apr 18

Please. Sign the petition folks…the link is in the article…let’s crack the 1000 mark
And call Ann Sudmalis. Isn’t she meant to represent her constituents, not let them be dragged away from friends and family in a dawn raid?

Michelle 5:50 pm 21 Apr 18

Its absolutely disgusting that dave is still in this place and family is being put through this hell makes me sad to call myself australian treating him like this is horrid. #setdavefree

Lorraine 6:36 pm 21 Apr 18

What sort of idiot deports someone that had been here their whole life. Yet most of the criminals that have come here we let them stay and house and feed them and give them accomodation. Please tell me that this is a joke. I came here from England as a 2 year old,are they going to deport all of us that came out on the £10 flights to populate Australia.

Debbie Johns 6:48 pm 21 Apr 18

I’m stunned. This is draconian. A full explanation is called for. This man has worked and paid taxes and super. It isn’t right.

Maureen Baughan 6:53 pm 21 Apr 18

When my parents plus my three sisters and I came to Australia in 1954 as ten pound migrants us kids just settled in and carried on. When we turned voting age we registered and voted. Earlier when mum and dad became citizens I thought I’d become an Ozzie too. Further on down the track one of my older sisters and her eight kids went for a small holiday over to NZ which was fine until she came back and was stopped at the border but the kids were allowed through but she wasn’t a citizen of Oz. When she said they were all going for a good meal because the kids were starving and she hoped they’d take them and someone should change baby’s nappy they got in a huddled and just wrote some paper work for what she had to do.

No one in all that time ever advised us that once we were out of our parents care we had to apply for citizenship which the four of us did together and took the oath together.

Jill caldwell 6:54 pm 21 Apr 18

He has worked here, paid taxes, given people employment, has a family, and they want to tear this family apart. Maybe they should deport the gangs, rapists, pedophiles, and the illegal Muslims and their multiple wives that milking the welfare system. I say let this man stay here with his family.

Lisa 7:01 pm 21 Apr 18

Wrong. Law at the time they came under parents passport. Now illegal because law changes. Needs to have something in place for them. Have not intentionally stayed. They were legal.

Tim Holt 7:09 pm 21 Apr 18

There are no words that can explain this. The tightened immigration and border force regulations were supposedly designed to protest us from terrorism. The actions of Peter Dutton are more than just an over reach. It is an abuse of power that cannot be tolerated in a democracy. Tim Holt OAM.

Christine Hale 7:13 pm 21 Apr 18

Dave should be able to stay. We all did stupid things when we were young.

Joy Barnes 7:17 pm 21 Apr 18

This is ridiculous, he was 7 years old when he came here. He belongs here, his family is here. Why are we copying the stupid policies of the US?

Katrina Noonan 7:32 pm 21 Apr 18

Omg I am horrified for this man & his family. How could this happen!? He was 7 when he came here, he is one of us. I am ashamed of this country for the first time ever for doing this. How could they be so insensitive & cruel! Keep this man in his home and his country. This was not his fault because he was just a child. DO NOT DEPORT THIS MAN!!

Gary & Marie Norton 7:32 pm 21 Apr 18

This is disgusting. We have know Dave and his family since 1980. He has always been a very hard working family man. He has paid his taxes and given to this community. To separate this family is beyond belief. Australia and Bateman’s Bay has been this man’s home since he was seven years old. He knows no other country. What has our country come to????

Margaret Greenfield 7:34 pm 21 Apr 18

He should be allowed to stay.

Heather 8:53 pm 21 Apr 18

My opinion? What total and utter rot!
How can this be when we are continually allowing ILLEGAL immigrants into this country who have no intention of ever working and only take, take, take.
This country has truly lost the plot if this story is true.
I am beyond disgusted

Geoff Morrissey 10:36 pm 21 Apr 18

This is disgusting. Any decision to deport someone who has spent the majority of their life since childhood should only be made as the result of a serious crime at the time of a criminal prosecution. It should also be subject to a legal hearing of any appeal.

There is no cause to raid a person’s home in the early hours of the morning. Particularly when that person has substantial ties to the community.

Richard venables 11:16 pm 21 Apr 18

I have no faith in the Australian government. If they deport they owe him the taxes he has paid the Australian government since he was 18.

Elizabeth Robinson 11:46 pm 21 Apr 18

This is not the Australia I knew. I cannot accept this as being just and fair. Australia’s legendary “fair go” for all has disappeared with the likes of Dutton and Morrison in the Cabinet.

Susan Foster 1:39 am 22 Apr 18

For Gods sake how ridiculous. 16 people probably with guns. How disgraceful of this Government.

Sandi & Paul King 6:21 am 22 Apr 18

Rev Chapman I totally agree with everything you have said here & stand with you against this deplorable disgusting Dutton deed & must be stopped ‼️‼️Thankyou Rev Chapman because MP Ann Sudmalis your local LNP is non supportive non committal & nonrepresentative of her constituents & Euroballa Shire WONT FORGET THIS 🤬

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