HIGH-profile Tasmanian bikie Aaron “AJ” Graham remains locked up in Australia’s most secure prison, despite a Federal Court judge overruling Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s 2015 decision to cancel his visa.
Graham, 48, a New Zealand national and former president of the Rebels Kingston chapter, has been detained in Goulburn’s Supermax since his visa was cancelled on character grounds last June.
In the Federal Court, Justice Richard Tracey ruled Mr Dutton’s decision to cancel Graham’s visa be quashed and ordered the Federal Government to pay Graham’s legal costs.
But just hours after the decision was handed down, Graham’s visa was cancelled again by a representative from Mr Dutton’s office.
Melbourne barrister Michael Pena-Rees said that immediately after the ruling in the Federal Court – where Graham’s wife was present – lawyers faxed Goulburn Correctional Centre requesting Graham’s release.
“But about three hours later, a Border Force official attended at the prison and served a further cancellation on Mr Graham,” Mr Pena-Rees said.
He said Graham had spent 12 months behind bars awaiting his court case and was in lockdown isolation, due to some of the other people in the prison.
“Mr Graham’s wife heard the good news in court, and left thinking that after 12 months being a single mother and trying to get by in Hobart, that she’d be able to be reunited with her husband.
“But after many hours of what we say was unlawful detention, we found that he was never really going to be released.”
“It seems that whatever the court was going to say was going to say was going to be disregarded in any event.” – AJ Graham’s barrister Michael Pena-Rees
Graham was jailed in 2009 over a brutal assault of an insurance fraud investigator in Clarendon Vale.
Mr Pena-Rees said he was able to speak briefly to Graham after his visa was cancelled again, saying he reported being affected mentally and physically by the decision.
A spokesman for Mr Dutton confirmed the minister has considered Graham’s case and decided to again cancel his visa.
“He will remain in immigration detention or alternatively can return to New Zealand while there is any appeal,” the spokesman said.
“There are strong provisions under section 501 of the Migration Act that allow the minister to cancel a visa without notice if the minister reasonably suspects that the person does not pass the character test and is satisfied the cancellation is in the national interest.”
Mr Pena-Rees said the next option for Graham, who was born in New Zealand and moved to Australia aged 10, could be an appeal to the High Court.
He expressed surprise that Mr Dutton was able to properly reassess Graham’s case while on the election campaign trail, or serve defence lawyers with a document of 300 pages within two hours.
“It seems that whatever the court was going to say was going to say was going to be disregarded in any event,” Mr Pena-Rees said.