Martin Brennan, the English-born (self-proclaimed) leader of the anti-Muslim group the ‘Australian Defence League’, is currently a guest at the Maribyrnong Detention Centre. According to Brennan, he was detained on July 19, 2011 for over-staying his visa, which expired on March 17, 2010. In an attempt to remain in the country, Brennan has secured the services of lawyer Robert Balzola. You may remember Balzola from such events as the December 2007 rally opposing a proposed 1200-student Muslim school in Camden, NSW (Nile party behind anti-Muslim school rally, Wendy Frew, The Sydney Morning Herald, December 22, 2007: Toaf has an account of the meeting here). As well as being one of the finest lawyers in the business, Balzola is a ‘Knight of the Southern Cross’ and was formerly employed by Labor MP John Murphy.
In a media release, Brennan claims that he is being detained unlawfully. Further, that “I have been informed by my lawyer that as I am of good character, I would not be refused a bridging visa”.
He’s a character, certainly: dunno ’bout ‘good’ but.
Hello to all you great people out there who have supported me during this difficult time.
Just to let you know, I am still being detained UNLAWFULLY by the Australian Immigration department.
Below is a media release from my lawyer, Robert Balzola. He is one of the finest in the business, and if it wasn’t for this gentleman I would be back in England by now.
Embargo 12:00 p.m.
· Mr Martin Brennan was detained by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on 19 July 2011 on grounds that he had no valid visa, had allegedly breached conditions on visa and general alleged non compliance with the Migration Act of Australia.
· On 25 July 2011 Mr Brennan applied for a bridging visa on grounds that he is eligible to apply for a further spouse visa upon release from Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre where Mr Brennan is presently detained.
· Mr Brennan is a British citizen.
· On 26 July 2011 Mr Brennan was refused his bridging visa on grounds that “Schedule 1 Item 1214C(3)(h)(ii) provides that where s48 of the Act applies to an applicant (the statutory bar provision), they are ineligible to make a valid application if they have had a Partner class visa refused since they last entered Australia”.
· Mr Brennan did apply for a spouse visa on 4 November 2008 which was refused on 17 March 2010. Mr Brennan says that this occurred when correspondence was sent to an address in [?] which he has recently moved. Mr Brennan says that he had also provided E-mail and telephone numbers to the Department for contact. Mr Brennan says no alternative contact was made.
· On 26 July 2011 solicitor for Mr Brennan, Robert Balzola did notify the Department that the basis for the bridging visa refusal, being Item 1214C(3)(h)(ii) has been removed by Statutory Legislative Instrument SLI No. 105 of 2011 effective 1 July 2011. Mr Balzola further advised that the effect of SLI 105 is to remove Schedule 1 Item 1214C(3)(h) in its entirety. Mr Balzola further noted for this reasons that the bridging visa refusal was made in administrative error as the provision relied upon by the Department did not exist at time of decision.
· On 26 July 2011 the Department wrote back to Mr Balzola, simply asserting: “I can advise the decision to refuse your client the Bridging Visa E (BVE) will not be revisited on this occasion. If you believe there is a jurisdictional error in this case you are entitled to seek review of this decision at the Migration Review Tribunal”.
On 27 July 2011 Mr Balzola wrote to the Department in reply, seeking reasons for the decision under s.13 of the Administrative Decisions Judicial Review Act.
· Today, the Department notified Mr Balzola that this matter was now with the Department’s Legal Branch for consideration.
· Also today, Mr Balzola has brought this matter to the attention of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship for resolution.
· It is the intention of the applicant to seek the original decision be vacated being fundamentally flawed at law.
· Mr Brennan has further complained with full justification against his mistreatment against his medical condition and the serving of certain foods.
A Message From Martin:
Now to explain this in more simple terms, the Australian Immigration Department (DIAC) have slapped a statutory 8 bar on me which is item 1214c(3) (h) (ii). This prevents me from making an application for a bridging visa; or any visa for this matter.
This legislation was cancelled on the 1st of July 2011. I have been informed by my lawyer that as I am of good character, I would not be refused a bridging visa, so as they are detaining me now under legislation that doesn’t exist any more. I am being held in detention UNLAWFULLY.
The incompetent compliance officer who has slapped this statutory 8 order on me is MXXXXX BXXXXXXX Tel 03 9XXX XXXX. His mobile is XXXX XXX XXX. This is a man who holds a very important position in immigration. He has the power to refuse people’s visas and deport them, yet he doesn’t even know the laws and legislation of the Australian Immigration Department.
My lawyer spoke to him about this and he had no answer. When I called him earlier today to ask why [L] have a statutory 8 on me he went quiet. I then asked him, “Did you not know that the legislation had been scrapped?” and he confirmed to me no, he didn’t.
It gives you a great sense of confidence doesn’t it? An immigration officer that doesn’t know the laws of immigration. I wonder how many lives this man has ruined in the past due to his incompetence?
If it wasn’t for my lawyer I would have been deported by now under false preten[c]es, so I urge you all to write or ring immigration and make an official complaint about this man as he clearly doesn’t know the laws of his job.
As you know, I am the Leader of the Australian Defence League and we have a big rally/demo this Saturday in Sydney. Unfortunately I won’t be there but make sure you guys do me and every Defence League around the world proud as the world will be watching.
We are fighting against radical Islam, they can lock me up under false pretences but they will NEVER shut me up.
I don’t care no more how long I spend locked up in here because every day I spend in here HIGHLIGHTS THE INJUSTICE US INFIDELS RECEIVE FROM OUR RESPECTIVE GOVERNMENTS.
I would like to thank everyone globally for their support and this is just the start, because what they are doing to me they are doing to us all.
I failed to notify them of a change of address so my visa was incomplete. As they sent the forms to my old address, fair enough my fault.
BUT, they could have emailed me the forms any time, or called me. They didn’t, and now they slap a false ban on me.
I would just like to note that since you guys bombarded the detention centre with calls the treatment I have received in regards to halal food and medical treatment has changed. They are now treating me well but remember that is SERCO – the people that look after detainees – not DIAC, so time to give immigration hell, people, and seek justice for me, Martin Brennan of the Australian Defence League in the name of all of us.
You’ve done a fantastic job so far, so keep up the fantastic work.
I will Never. Surrender. Ever.