Disgraced rugby league player Russell Packer faces an
uphill battle to stay in Australia if he serves more than a
year in prison, an Australian lawyer says.
Turners Coulson Immigration Lawyers' principal solicitor Ray
Turner told the Herald from Sydney that if Packer served more
than a year in prison he would be liable to have his special
category visa cancelled under section 501 of the Migration
"If that happens and we couldn't get it overturned, he could
never, ever return to Australia for any reason, which would
effectively kill his rugby league career unless they send him
off to England."
Packer, 24, was sent to jail for two years for seriously
assaulting an expat New Zealand man in Sydney in November
after he was asked to leave a bar for being drunk.
Packer's appeal will be heard on February 11.
Mr Turner said Packer could still be deported if he served
less than a year or was asked to do community service because
of a character test he would still have to meet.
"There's a thing called the character test which is one of
the most draconian pieces of legislation you will ever read
and if you [serve] 12 months or more you will fail the
character test," he said.
Packer's victim was expat New Zealander Lester Enoka Time,
who grew up in Manurewa and whose parents still live in South
The 22-year-old could not be contacted for comment yesterday
but a relative said he came from a good family who attended
Auckland rugby league football administrator Juanita
Woodhouse said Time played rugby league in the junior grades
in South Auckland as a centre and played for the Manurewa
He also represented the Counties Manukau Stingrays briefly.
Ms Woodhouse said Time had gone to Australia in 2009 to try
his luck at a rugby league club.
Off the field, she said Time was a good guy. Australia's
Daily Telegraph reported Time had gone to Facebook to thank
his friends and to wish them a happy Monday. By yesterday,
all traces of his Facebook page had disappeared.
He also sent a barbed tweet aimed at Packer, before his
Twitter account was shut down.
It followed another tweet Time sent on November 23 - a day
after the assault - when it appeared he was challenging
Packer to a "one-on-one" fight.
Meanwhile, former Kiwis coach Graham Lowe told TVNZ he hoped
Packer's conviction would end his NRL career.
"This absolute reckless and vicious cycle that seems to be
coming into our society has got to be stopped," he said.
"And the only way to stop it is with these harsh penalties."
Lester Enoka Time
22- year-old New Zealander, living in Australia
Played rugby league in the junior grades in South Auckland
and played for the Manurewa Marlins and Counties Manukau
- James Ihaka of the New Zealand Herald