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 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.

*This article first appeared on RiotACT

What's Your Opinion?

150 Responses to Batemans Bay grandfather to be deported on Thursday

Sandra Eckersley 9:25 am 23 Apr 18

It is the JOB of local federal member Ann Sudmalis to stand up for her constituents but she has just ignored this serious issue. A family is being ripped apart because politicians have altogether the WRONG priorities. No wonder people have lost faith in the political process.

Martinne Lüdicke 8:32 am 23 Apr 18

This could be me. I’ve posted this story with my story on my page today. But too scared now to post publicly. Can’t even apply to become citizen because THEN THEY WILL CHECK ME OUT AND CHUCK ME OUT 😪😪😪😪

Richard Leggatt 8:31 am 23 Apr 18

Someone who came here legally as a child, should, in my opinion be considered Australian. If he had come as an Adult, maybe this is warranted, but under the circumstances outlined, it seems an excessively harsh penalty.

(The Reverend) Chris Freestone 8:27 am 23 Apr 18

Sixteen from Border Force? And a man who has “paid his debt to society” is clapped in handcuffs at FIVE in the morning? This is more like a scene starring the Waffen SS in Nazi Germany than the Australia I have known.
I’m horrified on at least two levels; one that this man can be deported at all, especially under these circumstances and in this way; and two, that we have 16 Australians (and many more) who sell their soul to this heinous organisation with its heinous minister!

Debra Hawkins 8:13 am 23 Apr 18


Jeannie 6:39 am 23 Apr 18

The man has been in Australia 50 years, granted he made a mistake (and paid the consequences for it) when he was a kid! So, let me get this right, he’s being deported for a few drink driving convictions? Are you kidding me? This man has his whole family in Australia! He is a business man, he is not a drain on society (like some of those with multiple wives and up to twenty children bludging off society.) He has paid his taxes, educated his children, made a positive contribution to his society. Who made this decision to wreck a whole familiy’s life? Is it really because of a few drink driving convictions? This is totally and utterly outrageous.

Ken 6:12 am 23 Apr 18

Peter Dutton has been given Dictatorial powers over all citizens. More than any other person or one person should be able to tear families apart.

Rose 5:47 am 23 Apr 18

Unfortunately Australians ignore this abuse of power until it strikes at them or someone close to them.

Carol johnston 4:31 am 23 Apr 18

Well if they send him back why don’t they deport everyone who immigrated from overseas.

Roy 2:06 am 23 Apr 18

He is Australian, leave him be. There are 100 thousand like him including me.

Barbara 10:51 pm 22 Apr 18

Typically border force move but utterly ridiculous. Beyond logic, compassion, dignity, justice, human rights and common sense.

Sue Boyes 10:51 pm 22 Apr 18

This could happen to anyone, my husband and his brothers came out from England with their parents as ten pound POM’s like thousands of others. What sort of dictatorship are we in where this can happen? Time for a BIG change of government. Needs a Royal commission and definitely a four corners report.

Liz Lipski 10:22 pm 22 Apr 18

For God’s sake Mr Dutton. when will your barn-storming stop? A government is supposed to help people, not hinder them. This government has had the worst record of how to treat its country of many countries.

Sue Thompson 9:47 pm 22 Apr 18

Absolutely dreadful. Should not be deported. He has worked, paid taxes and raised a family. What has he done wrong?

Lea 9:38 pm 22 Apr 18

This man has lived in this country since being a small child, his wife, family grandchildren are here, he has his own painting company and not spongeing off the government … no wonder he is confused so would I be leaving him alone and let him stay ….

Christine Robertson 9:31 pm 22 Apr 18

For goodness sake this man has been here for most of his life. he may not be an angel but has family and a business and has contributed to this society for years so why does he deserve to be treated like a criminal when there are far worst allowed to stay. We are becoming more and more like America we should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this to happen.

Darcy Smith 9:27 pm 22 Apr 18

Gods sake let him stay. We send normal people back but let murderers and the like stay, are the politicians that stupid?

Trudi Dietrich 8:48 pm 22 Apr 18

It is totally tragic.How could that happen? I do hope the Immigration Department hasn’t gone totally insane. How could they take a man away from his family. And how could it be possible for a family to have their grandfather, father and husband taken away from them??

That is barbaric. What has Australia come too???

Julie Newell 8:29 pm 22 Apr 18

Immigration – this is bizaare!!!!!!!!!This man deserves to stay in Australia…why havent you deported all the parliamentarians who didn’t know they weren’t citizens..I find this beggars belief.

Denis Murrell 8:23 pm 22 Apr 18

Border Force must have a lot more relevant information than every one else who’s complaining. They wouldn’t have gone so far as to deport they guy otherwise.

    Shayne O'Neill 8:54 pm 22 Apr 18

    I’ve seen people deported for less. Years of frankly cold hearted refugee enforcement has bred a generation of immigration officers that seem hell bent on getting quota on deportations. They’ve just done some cold math and said “Well this guy once went to jail, therefore deport” without considering he’s been a mostly law abiding person, give or take a couple of DUIs.

    Unfortunately because cops treat DUIs a lot more seriously than the public does it’ll be the DUIs that sealed his fate. And thus some grandchildren will have to grow up without their Grandpa in their life.

    Its a stupid system. Hopefully hes got a good lawyer who can sort this out, but sadly the immigration laws have been written in a way that prevents judges from preventing injustices.

    gayle macleod 9:20 pm 22 Apr 18

    I agree with your comments.