Mike Tyson

2001 cabinet papers: Howard government blocked Mike Tyson visa

The Howard government banned US boxer and convicted rapist Mike Tyson from entering Australia in 2001, denying him a visa on the basis that he failed the character requirements.

In April of that year the federal cabinet backed then immigration minister Philip Ruddock’s discretion to block Tyson’s application to visit Australia, noting that he was not of “good character”’.

The Howard cabinet also discussed character concerns about US rapper Eminem but Mr Ruddock used his discretion to grant him a visa, paving the way for his two-day Australian tour where he performed in Sydney and Melbourne.

Cabinet records released by the National Archives of Australia reveal that Mr Ruddock wrote to then prime minister John Howard on April 5 stating that Tyson failed the character test under the Migration Act 1958 due to his substantial criminal record. The cabinet agreed that blocking the visa application was appropriate despite it being at the discretion of Mr Ruddock, with the then immigration minister agreeing to take his colleagues’ views into account.

Tyson – who did not visit Australia in 2001 due to the visa rejection – was jailed for rape in 1992 for assaulting 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room.

He was sentenced to six years in prison but was granted early release in 1995.

In 2012 he visited Australia for the first time on a six-day tour after the Gillard government granted the former world heavyweight boxing champion a visa to enter Australia in November.

But New Zealand revoked his visa due to the 1992 rape conviction.

In July 2001, the Howard cabinet also discussed the visa application made by the rapper Eminem and character concerns.

Cabinet minutes show that Mr Ruddock took into account the views of his federal colleagues before making the decision to permit the performer to travel to Australia.

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