Rebels boss Alex Vella loses High Court application for return of visa

Criminal Law, Recent News

Rebels national president Alex Vella has lost in a last-ditch attempt to regain his Australian residence visa through his lawyers at a special leave application at the High Court in Sydney this morning.

Vella has been living in his country of birth, Malta, since the Australian Government cancelled his visa last year. His parents emigrated with him to Australia when he was a child and while he has held residency for 47 years, he has never held Australian citizenship.

Vella has been president of the Rebels, Australia’s biggest outlaw motorcycle club, since 1973. The Minister for Immigration cancelled Vella’s visa on the basis of character grounds, due to his association with the rebels, which the Government pleaded was a ‘high threat to the Australian community’.

Vella challenged the Minister’s decision in the Full Federal Court, which ruled against him in April this year. Vella argued that the procedural fairness required the Minister to disclose ‘protected information’ he relied on in deciding to cancel Vella’s visa. Secrecy provisions in the Migration Act permit the Minister to withhold certain information from visa applicants when it is ‘protected information’ received from certain Government agencies. These secrecy provisions ensure that the Minister can obtain information whose disclosure could prejudice criminal investigations, the safety of witnesses and national security, without requiring to share it with visa applicants. The Full Court construed the provisions against Vella.

The decision to grant Vella’s special leave application in the High Court is discretionary. The Court must have regard to whether the matter is one of public importance, whether differences between various State appellate courts need to be resolved, and whether it is in the interests of the administration of justice that the matter be heard. The Court’s reasons are yet to be published.

Image credit:  ABC Mark Willacy

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Rebels boss Alex Vella loses High Court application for return of visa