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From Immigration Minister Alex Hawke vows to deport temporary visa holders who breach COVID rules

The Minister said he had “asked the Department of Home Affairs to work closely with NSW agencies and officials to identify anybody who has been causing trouble of disobeying public health orders.”

“If they’re a temporary visa holder, we will cancel their visa.”

“This far into the pandemic, there is no excuse at this point,” he said.

“Australians are tired of it and people want to make sure that everyone is doing the right things.”

The Labor opposition has criticised the announcement, but the criticism was on the grounds that there were logistical problems with deportation, rather than on legal grounds. From Australian immigration minister's threat to deport partying backpackers dismissed as 'empty threat'

“Alex Hawke may have only been in the job for a few days, but he should at least be aware that his government has had enough trouble deporting a few convicted criminals, let alone hundreds of backpackers,” Keneally told Guardian Australia.

“It’s hard to see how Mr Hawke could actually carry out his threat given Department of Home Affairs bureaucrats are already overwhelmed with 300,000 people on bridging visas, 100,000 waiting for partner visas and 150,000 waiting for their citizenship application to be processed.”

Given current legislation, can the federal government deport someone for breaking lockdown restrictions, and can it be done solely based on a decision by the Department of Home Affairs, or do they need to be found guilty of a criminal offence?

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Visas can be cancelled for many reasons

For the particular circumstances you describe s116 of the Migration Act seems most directly applicable.

(1)  Subject to subsections (2) and (3), the Minister may cancel a visa if he or she is satisfied that:

(e)  the presence of its holder in Australia is or may be, or would or might be, a risk to:

(i)  the health, safety or good order of the Australian community or a segment of the Australian community; or

Subsections (2) and (3) limit or require respectively the minister’s cancellation to matters prescribed in the regulations none of which are applicable.

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