A bikie gang boss awaiting deportation to New Zealand says his fellow detainees will follow quarantine rules when they arrive.
Australia has chartered a plane to deport around 30 New Zealand citizens, and the Government has set up a specific “enhanced security” isolation facility to accommodate the deportees – many who have been removed from Australia for claimed links to criminal organisations.
Raymond Elise, a former president of the Rebels motorcycle gang’s Victoria branch, told Stuff he and eight others currently being held at a Melbourne detention centre will be on a plane before Thursday.
“The guys here in Melbourne, we’ve had a good chat, and we know that there’re rules in quarantine that we’ve got to follow and we also know that we’ve got to stick by – you know, you’ve got to obey the law there.
“Our boys know that what we do there could potentially slow the process for the boys coming after us.”
Elise grew up in Mangere, Auckland, and lived in Australia for a decade before being arrested on April 24.
He had not been convicted of a crime in Australia; among the reasons given his visa being cancelled were his criminal offending from a young age in New Zealand, disregard for Australian laws, and “extensive network of criminal associates”.
He has been at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation awaiting deportation for three months.
Australia had delayed the deportations of the 501s, named after the section of the Migration Act which allows the country to cancel the visas of non-citizens, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Elise said the Australian Border Force has told him he will be flown to Auckland before Thursday, July 16. He expects others awaiting deportation at other facilities in Australia will be on the flight.
“All we’ve been told is, ‘You’re getting removed and you’re heading to Auckland’,” he said.
The deportees have not been tested for Covid-19. Elise said everybody entering the detention facilities was required to spend 10-days in isolation before mixing with others, reducing the possibility anyone has Covid-19.
Four returnees to New Zealand have absconded from self-isolation in recent weeks, with one breaking a window and another cutting through the wire holding together a fence.
“I know there’s going to be a few people who break the rules there, but you guys can’t blame every New Zealand citizen that’s coming home.
“What the New Zealand public has got to understand is, not everyone’s a criminal that’s coming home. Some of the guys that are coming home, they’ve never done jail time. They were working, they’ve been here for years, they got their visas cancelled on association of a club that’s not illegal to be part of.”
Elise was looking forward to re-joining his family, who left managed isolation in Auckland last week after relocating to New Zealand.
“It’s been quite stressful, not knowing what your future holds … I want to get home, get my quarantine out of the way.”
Health Minister Chris Hipkins on Monday afternoon said officials had chosen an inner-city Auckland hotel to house the deportees for the mandatory two-weeks isolation.
There would be more police officers at the facility than at usual managed isolation hotels, which had at least one officer tasked with guarding each facility in the past week.