A NEW Zealand nurse who worked at Peel Health Campus for almost a decade has been deported after flying to Syria on a self proclaimed peace mission.
Warren Marriner said he thought there would be a reaction from the Australian government when he flew to Syria earlier this year.
However, what he did not expect was to be thrown out of the country for a minor cannabis conviction he received when he was 18.
Mr Marriner is a popular nurse in Mandurah who cared for patients at Peel Health Campus for eight years while he lived in Cooloongup.
He has lived in Australia for the past 11 years and he has two brothers here, as well as four nieces.
He was upbeat when he spoke to the Coastal Times from his brother’s home in Taranaki on the north island of New Zealand.
“A smile came to my face when I realised I was going back to New Zealand,” Mr Marriner said.
“I like the coolness here, I go outside and it tickles the memory bank.
“But I want my friends in Mandurah to know I love them all very much.”
Mr Marriner is a self-confessed communist, whose Facebook feed is littered with posts in support of anarchy and of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
He is in touch with the Social Justice Network and is exploring his legal options after he was detained by the Australian government on November 5.
His travelling companions arrived home to Canada, the UK and the US without incident.
A spokesman from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection denied the visa cancellation came about because of Mr Marriner’s trip to Syria.
“The Department can confirm that this individual was removed from Australia for New Zealand on November 7,” he said.
“The Department can cancel visas for a range of reasons including providing incorrect information to enter Australia, failing to disclose prior criminal convictions, failing to abide by visa conditions, presenting a risk to the community and engaging in criminal conduct.”
Before he immigrated to Australia 11 years ago, Mr Marriner got a record of his conviction from the New Zealand police.
He also received a letter saying that he is not a threat to Australia. He was carrying this letter with him when he arrived back in Australia last week.
“I was getting my bags when airport staff searched me and I pulled the letter out,” he said.
“We were no threat to the Australian public, we went on a peace mission and we were nowhere near rebel areas.”
Customs staff ignored the letter.
Mr Marriner said he went to Syria because he just liked helping people.
“I spent 11 years caring for the people of Australia, that’s what I do, that’s what I did,” he said.
“I went over there and I saw a lot of people displaced. The Syrian government tries to dehumanise the enemy.”
Mr Marriner described the Syrian people as very proud but welcoming.
“I noticed that no matter what, they would not accept tips, I would try to give them my change at a shop, but they wouldn’t take it,” he said.
It was his love of history and politics that led him to go on the peace-keeping mission.
He said ancient monuments had been destroyed and in one town, 25,000 people had just “disappeared”.
Mr Marriner met high-ranking officials on the tour – including the Minister of Tourism.
“Well he hasn’t got much to do,”Mr Marriner said.
“He showed me a video showing before and after, and historic buildings have been brought down.
“Archaeology is one of my passions so it broke my heart.”
Mr Marriner agreed that it was worrying for Kiwis in Australia at the moment.
There’s about 40 New Zealand citizens living on Christmas Island.
“When I actually went to customs and immigration – I was basically kept in the dark,” he said.
“I was a little bit shell shocked, I was kept at a detention centre in Perth for two-and-a-half days which I found to be quite interesting.
“I rang the New Zealand consulate, but haven’t heard back from them.
“I just accepted it, but I was quite upset because I wanted to go back to Mandurah, Rockingham and my Peel Health Campus work colleagues who I love dearly.”
Mr Marriner intends to get a job as a nurse in New Zealand while he tries to come back to Australia.
He said he remained “upbeat”.
“It was a thought out decision to go to Syria knowing full well the reaction from the Australian government, I just didn’t know from where that reaction would come,” he said.
The Department spokesman said Mr Marriner was not a permanent resident of Australia.