This comes after
a trans-Tasman diplomatic rift has arisen over
moves to deport New Zealand bikies living in
arrived on 2 December at Christchurch airport,
where he was handed over by immigration to local
police after customs found a Rebels club vest in
Millar, 34, who
intended to join a motorcycle ride with the
Christchurch chapter of the Rebels, was
transferred to a watch house before being put on
a flight back to Brisbane the next day.
told him on Friday that his membership of the
club led to him being refused entry under
section 16 of the Immigration Act.
authorities to turn back anyone believed to be
likely to commit an offence drawing jail time or
pose a threat or risk to security, public order
or the public interest.
nothing wrong but I’m being punished,” Millar,
who has travelled to New Zealand three times in
the past 20 months without incident, told
Guardian Australia. “If you were going to do
something wrong, why would you take club colours
Australian government moves to deport residents
with New Zealand citizenship on character
grounds if they are members of bikie gangs.
This includes Ngati Kanohi
Te Eke Haapu, also known as Ko Rutene, a
one-time bodyguard of New
Zealand’s prime minister, John Key,
in Afghanistan. He is also a Rebels bikie and is
in detention awaiting deportation despite having
no criminal record.
police in Christchurch, who verified his lack of
criminal history in New Zealand, speculated to
him whether his was a case of New Zealand
authorities retaliating for the Australian
His case shows an
apparent shift in policy by New Zealand
immigration. Millar was granted a visa after
applying for one on his first trip in March 2014
after an immigration officer advised him to do
so as his membership of the Rebels might create
issues. On that trip, he was sent a letter
inviting him to enrol to vote.
New Zealand again in July and October last year
after being told he did not need to apply for a
visa as he did not have a criminal convictions.
Comment has been
sought from the office of the Australian
immigration minister, Peter Dutton.
The Rebels –
founded in Brisbane and Australia’s largest “1%”
motorcycle club – are a declared criminal
organisation in Queensland under legislation the
state government has flagged it would repeal
next year. However, it is not illegal to be a
member or wear club paraphernalia, except in
No such laws
exist in New Zealand, where the club has local
Millar said a
customs officer had “made a fuss” about the
discovery of a Rebels vest in his luggage, which
he had brought along with a motorcycle helmet.
“He then had to
tell his supervisor that he saw my club colours.
They rang [immigration authorities in] Auckland
and they said, ‘We’re denying you, you’re being
detained and sent back.’
“The reason I was
denied entry is apparently I’m part of a
criminal organisation, that’s the words they
used. I said, ‘Can you tell me anywhere where
that has been shown in court?’ because I know it
hasn’t. They said, ‘Yeah, it has.’ ”
He offered to
produce a copy of an Australian national police
check showing he had no criminal convictions.
Millar – who was
told detention rooms at Christchurch were being
used for “storage” as they did not have cameras
required by legislation – was subsequently taken
to a police station and held overnight.
“I got taken in
there and they forgot about me, I guess,” he
“They put me in a
cell and I had no toilet paper, no phone call,
no shower, a blanket and a thin little mattress
on a concrete floor. They gave me a little pack
of cereal for breakfast. I was told at 8 o’clock
someone would come from immigration. They didn’t
“I didn’t get any
lunch. And then they arrived at 3pm and took me
to the airport.”
was held on the plane by a flight attendant and
returned to him on arrival in Australia.
A letter from a
New Zealand immigration border operations
manager, Toni Sheed, to Millar on Friday
indicated his status as a bikie was instrumental
in his refusal.
“During a routine
search by a customs officer, and subsequent
telephone call with an immigration officer, it
was established that: you are a member of the
Rebels motorcycle gang in Australia; you were in
possession of gang paraphernalia; you intended
to ride with the Christchurch chapter of the
Rebels motorcycle gang,” Sheed said.
“Based on this
information, the border officer established that
you are disqualified under section 16 of the
Immigration Act 2009 and therefore must be
The New Zealand
immigration department website states that all
non-citizens who enter the country “must be of
good character”. This rules out those with
criminal convictions or who give false or
misleading information unless they are granted a
“character waiver”. Those under investigation by
law enforcement anywhere must disclose this if
“unsubstantiated allegations and civil matters
are not sufficient to demonstrate that a person
is not of good character”, the website states.
Moves by the
Australian government to use character grounds
to refuse re-entry to bikies and their
associates who are non-citizens when they travel
overseas have been under way for several years.
president of the Rebels, Alex Vella, is stranded
in his native Malta after being stripped of his
Australian residency when he left for a holiday
The high court in
October refused to grant Vella an appeal of the
Millar has been
told he must now apply for a “special direction”
waiver before he can be considered for a New
Comment has been
sought from the New Zealand immigration