The Federal Court has thrown out an Irish ex-bikie’s appeal to avoid deportation.
Dublin-born Paul Pennie, who has lived in Australia for 40 years, said his representations in favour of having his visa reinstated had not been given “proper, genuine and realistic” consideration by the Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton in his first Court hearing.
These included fears he would experience homelessness, unemployment, and lack of medical care for his mental health and heart issues if returned to Ireland.
Appeal judges Justice Davies, Derrington and Colvin disagreed, declaring, “no error is discernible in the primary judge’s reasons.”
“The minister accepted that he may experience significant difficulties…but was of the view that Mr Pennie would have a level of access to healthcare, social welfare and housing comparable to that which is available in Australia.”
Mr Pennie filed submissions stating that the views expressed by the Minister were incorrect, given that he would not be eligible for job seekers allowance or state pension in Ireland as he has lived in Australia since childhood, however the appeal judges found the minister had “no legal duty” to ensure the 46-year-old would be entitled to welfare.
The judges said the minister’s concerns that the Irish-Australian was at risk of engaging in further criminal conduct were reasonable, as although Mr Pennie said he had severed ties with the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, those involved with the outlaw group were still pressuring him to reoffend.
“In those circumstances, it was open to the minister to reason that separation from the Club was ongoing…not completed.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said ‘non-citizens’ who engage in criminal activity or other serious conduct of concern such as involvement in outlaw motorcycle gangs “can expect to have their visas considered for cancellation”.
Mr Pennie was sentenced to prison in 2015 for possession of methylamphetamine with intent to sell or supply, leading to the cancellation of his visa in 2016.
Following his appeal dismissal Mr Pennie wrote on Facebook from a Perth detention centre that the “putrid system” was destroying families’ lives.
His father Gerry Pennie said the decision had left Paul and the family devastated: “He just can’t get himself together, he couldn’t even talk to me...”
In a letter to Minister Dutton, Gerry Pennie wrote, “We have already been forced to endure…burying our youngest son Keith.
“Should you cancel Paul’s visa, we would again be put through the unbearable grief of losing yet another one of our children.”
Mr Pennie said his son had contributed to society through hard work since his teens, holding jobs as a hospital attendant and security guard, and was prepared to atone for his wrongdoing.
Paul Pennie will leave behind his elderly parents, sisters, and nieces and nephews when he leaves Australia in late November.