Start-up co-founder deported, government’s innovation commitment questioned

The co-founder of a promising start-up sports equipment manufacturer has been deported, following the discovery that he had not honoured a regional work visa obligation.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Disrupt’s Chris Bailey was arrested at Sydney Airport after returning from Los Angeles on business. After being questioned by the Australian Border Force, he spent two days in Villawood Detention Centre and was deported to the UK on Monday.

Gary Elphick, co-founder at Disrupt, said that, instead of taking a corporate job offer and gaining a temporary work visa, Bailey gambled and lied about fulfilling regional work duties as part of a holiday visa. Disrupt was founded in 2014 by the two British-born men.

As a start-up is not considered a business, Disrupt was not able to sponsor Bailey.

"We knew he was taking a risk in pretending to have done the harvest work, but what choice did he have? Three months is like three years in startup land, he'd have missed all the huge strides we've been making and I would have had to find somebody else," Elphick told The AFR.

Disrupt was part of the second intake in Telstra’s Muru-D accelerator program, and had achieved revenues of over $1 million annually.

In a LinkedIn post yesterday, Elphick was critical of the situation, especially against the federal government’s innovation rhetoric.

“This probably comes as a surprise to many people but that’s how our backward Immigration policy works, they see that picking fruit as adding more to the [country's economy than working for a high-growth start-up" he wrote.

To read his post, "Save our Start-Ups: The government deported my business partner" click here.