Australian passport holder and registered voter loses appeal in fight against deportation

A Cook Islands-born man who was granted an Australian passport and enrolled to vote in Australia has lost a court appeal in his fight to avoid deportation.

Edward McHugh was enrolled to vote when he turned 18 in 1986 and more than 30 years later he was issued an Australian passport.

His lawyers argued in the Federal Court that both are rights given only to Australian citizens.

In a judgment on Monday the court’s full bench dismissed his appeal against his visa cancellation – finding no error in an earlier decision by a Federal Court judge, while noting immigration officials are reassessing Mr McHugh’s case.

Mr McHugh, whose case was first reported by SBS News, was brought to Australia in 1975 and adopted by a Queensland couple the following year.

He didn’t learn of his adoption until 2013 when he was 45.

Five years later he learned that his permanent visa had been cancelled on character grounds after he was convicted of an assault and that he’d be deported.

Mr McHugh spent 31 months in immigration detention. Although no longer in detention he sought relief from the Federal Court against being deported, but that has been rejected.

Mr McHugh, a father of seven and grandfather of eight, also claimed to be Aboriginal having spent much of his life living rough in remote Indigenous communities.

In Monday’s judgment, Justice Debra Mortimer said at the time of the appeal hearing the court heard the Department of Home Affairs had written to Mr McHugh saying it was considering his request against the minister’s refusal to revoke his visa cancellation.

That letter invited Mr McHugh to provide additional information or documentary evidence for the department’s assessment of his revocation request, particularly his contention that he is an “Aboriginal Australian and not an alien”.

“In those circumstances it is premature to consider any relief. The grant of any substantive relief is likely to interfere with, and cut across, the Minister’s reconsideration,” Justice Mortimer said.

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