NZ detainee's legal challenge could be 'momentous'

9:30 am on 10 June 2016

A jailed New Zealand-born bikie who won his Australian visa back in court only to lose it again within hours is mounting a legal challenge which his lawyers say could be momentous for all NZ immigration detainees.

Tasmanian Rebels gang leader and convicted criminal AJ Graham had his residence visa reinstated yesterday by a federal judge.

Justice Richard Tracey said Immigration Minister Peter Dutton's decision to cancel Graham's visa was invalid and ordered the Federal Government to pay his costs.

However, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton promptly cancelled the visa again on "bad character" grounds.

Lawyer Michael Pena-Rees, who heads Graham's legal team, said he had hoped his client would be out of Goulburn Prison, near Canberra, within an hour.

He said they were now looking to mount a constitutional challenge in the High Court within weeks with a view to stopping Mr Dutton's ability to effectively over-rule the courts.

"What one would hope for is that it would allow natural justice to be applied to the legislation and to force the Minister in any of these types of cancellations and revocations to apply natural justice."

Australia toughened its immigration rules in late 2014, changing the threshold for the cancellation of visas or revocation of permanent residency. Almost 200 New Zealand citizens have since been detained.

Mr Pena-Rees said if Graham's legal challenge succeeded it would be be momentous for other New Zealand detainees as it could then be applied to them.

"They could seek natural justice, seek a review through the judicial system and that decision would be final," he said.

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