Christian Feetham’s story is a case where the chase for law and order has gone horribly wrong. The Apollo Bay resident turned out to be a soft target, to exercise the new deportation regime, for individuals involved in criminal activities.
It is one thing to apply this to those found guilty of serious crimes and show no signs of changing. There must be a bit of perspective here. This case shows how widely the net has been cast. Civil libertarians warned that the new approach would be used against those who do not deserve this sort of punishment.
The inhumanity in dealing with the boat people is now starting to be applied to others.
On Sunday, about 500 members of the Apollo Bay community committed to walking in support of Mr Feetham.
Sure. Feetham got himself into trouble when he was young. After being abused as a child, he ended up in foster care, where he was socialised as an angry outcast. He ended up serving a total four years in prison, over assault and driving charges. Despite everything, he sorted himself out, got married and had children.
He had a job, volunteered to help the community at Wye River, after horror bushfires destroyed more than 100 homes, and helps to run a 200-acre Apollo Bay farm that has been in the family for 85 years.
Because of mistakes in the past, he was arrested by the Border Force and has spent months in detention centres around Melbourne so far .
He faces the prospect of being sent to New Zealand, because he happened to have been born there, while his parents were there on temporary work. Their son faces deportation through a technicality. He came to Australia as a baby and can in no way be really called a New Zealander. He has no memories of or connection to the place.
The second technicality is that, because it was not required, his parents did not register as Australian citizens. They were still permanent residents and have lived a life in Australia. Tens of thousands of others from New Zealand and the United Kingdom are in the same boat, and what has happened to Christian Feetham potentially threatens them too.
This is a clear misuse of power, and victimisation of a section of the Australian population. Some people are set up as second-class citizens. It should not be this way.
Nor should this deportation go ahead. This is not a habitual criminal guilty of serious crimes. To have the rug pulled under his life and break up an Australian family is wrong.
It is time to release the man.