Australia’s Con Air mission to remove criminals
Australia has launched a real life Con Air with COVID-19 forcing Australian Border Force to charter an aircraft to remove criminals including drug traffickers, paedophiles, kidnappers and gangsters from our shores.
The men and one woman, all from New Zealand, were deemed a threat to Australian national security and would normally be sent home on regular flights as their visas are individually cancelled.
But the suspension of commercial flights during the coronavirus pandemic has prompted Australian authorities to be more creative in how it removes its undesirable foreigners with a real life version of the Hollywood flick Con Air.
Con Air was a fictional 1997 movie starring Nicholas Cage and John Malkovich, in which prisoners being moved by a prisoner plane stage a hijacking.
Two Airbus A319 aircraft flights from Sydney and Perth in the past two days removed 30 New Zealanders, collected from all over Australia, including Mongrel Mob outlaw motorcycle gang associate 24-year-old Hylton King.
King has a long history of violence including last month choking and biting a female Queensland Police officer outside a Brisbane pub.
Such was his stranglehold, a court heard the officer lost consciousness and would later have to stop breastfeeding her baby amid fears she, and consequently her baby, may have been infected by King's biting.
Also removed was John Webster, who had been sentenced to four-and-a-half years imprisonment for the indecent assault of a child under 12 years.
Of the others removed, convictions included possession of dangerous drugs, persistent exploitation of a child, contravention of domestic violence order, assault occasioning grievous bodily harm, aggravated robbery, assault officer in execution of duty, kidnapping and unlawful use of motor vehicles.
"Non-citizens who have been found not to satisfy the character test are not entitled to remain in Australia" ABF Commander Field Operations Ben Biddington said on Thursday.
"Since the rules around mandatory visa cancellation were strengthened in December 2014, a total of 2926 New Zealand citizens have had their visas cancelled."
The 30 were put onto the plane in handcuffs, escorted up the stairs to the aircraft by two officers for each prisoner, with a large team of other officers standing guard on the tarmac.
The ABF said since COVID-19, border closures and flight reductions had curtailed removal of unlawful non-citizens including those who failed character tests so in future Con Air flights would round them up from across Australia for detention at Christmas Island.
That program, currently being worked out including over quarantine procedures, is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
The same North West Point facility on the island, in the Indian Ocean 1500km off Australia's western mainland, was successfully used as a quarantine facility for Australian citizens evacuated from Wuhan in China, the ground zero of the pandemic, earlier this year.
This shift was done to remove the "capacity pressure" across the whole of Australia's detention network.
Originally published as Australia's Con Air mission to remove crims