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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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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.

Debra Mills 3:50 pm 23 Apr 18

Why hasn’t this been televised all over the news in Australia?????????

Bev floyd 2:57 pm 23 Apr 18

Bloody outrageous. A portent of evil and MUST be stopped.

wendy downing 2:37 pm 23 Apr 18

This man has made a serious and committed contribution over a life time to this society and it beggars belief that he is to be deported. I support that this man be allowed to stay.

rob Osborne 2:06 pm 23 Apr 18

Typical of the fools in big jobs who have never raised a sweat. Deport politicians when they fail. We would have none left.

jan harris 1:59 pm 23 Apr 18

that is awful,i feel for the family.

Allan Tomkins 1:37 pm 23 Apr 18

Release him immediately..this is an outrageous abuse of beaurocratic power for what purpose..to prove that the government of this country is insane..we already know that!!!

Cheryl Murray 1:27 pm 23 Apr 18

just unbelievable!!! disgusting that this can happen the way it took place! after all he’s not really what you would call an illegal immigrant or a criminal,,, just a bit of paperwork could sort this out!!

DAVID 12:06 pm 23 Apr 18

Peter Dutton is just keeping the beds full for Servo as they don’t get paid for empty ones

Robin 11:41 am 23 Apr 18

This is stupid. It makes no sense to deport this man. What is wrong with this government and Mr Dutton? By deporting this man you are removing a family breadwinner and it will cost the government! In money to help support his family and in VOTES. I am horrified that he was arrested in such a way – 16 order force officers ar 5 am. They must be desperate for something to do so they practice on a harmless grandfather!

Jody Ellis 11:25 am 23 Apr 18

This is heartless and unfair. Does anyone in government think these decisions through ?

Colleen Bourke 11:25 am 23 Apr 18

He and his family should have been better informed about their residential status etc.

Jennifer Whiteman 10:56 am 23 Apr 18

So unjust! How many other people is this going to happen to? It could have been us as we are both migrants but we applied for Australian citizenship and were accepted in the 1960’s. Have you contacted the ABC and got it on the news?

Glenys Gayfer 10:20 am 23 Apr 18

This is unbelievable, why should this family be ripped apart? I hope many, many people let Dutton know this is shameful behaviour & that the deportation be stopped.

Hendrika Newcombe 9:35 am 23 Apr 18

That is absolutely terrible. His father made a mistake & didn’t get naturalised.
That should not fall back on him. 😢

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