04 October 2011

Another SNAFU with the paper work

We all make mistakes. Far be it from me to cast the first stone. But when it comes to paper work, a volley of rocks has already been hurled at the Department of Immigration over the years. Just a couple of examples: incorrectly advising people whose visas had been cancelled of how long they had to appeal (the Srey case); automatic cancellation of student visas for breach of a "prescribed condition", but forgetting to prescribe a condition (the Hossain case).

On Friday, a couple of emails lobbed into my inbox which I didn't get to look at until Sunday. They contained links to a couple of new "legislative instruments" guaranteed to make your eyes glaze with their complexity. The explanatory note that was posted with them suggested that, since 1 July 2007, the skills assessments which are the basis of all General Skilled Migration applications may have been unlawfully made because the Department of Immigration failed, forgot, or somehow didn't manage to get the approval of another Minister as required by law. No details given, all very mysterious.

Today I got an email circulated by a colleague, Christopher Levingston, which sheds some further light on the mystery. According to Chris, the assessing authority that was not properly authorised was Trades Recognition Australia (TRA), which is responsible for assessing all trade occupations.

So what does this all mean? Visas wrongly granted? -- unlikely, since the legal requirement is that the Minister is "satisfied" the criteria have been met. Visas wrongly refused? -- that's a bit more complicated, depending on whether the non-existence of an authorised assessing authority means that all applications should have been approved, or none should have. Certainly, as Chris points out, there could be implications for people charged with criminal offences in relation to giving false documents to TRA.

Maybe the lesson to be learned is this: the politicisation of immigration over the past couple of decades has led to micro-management by politicians and politically-driven bureaucrats, with resulting increased complexity in the rules and regulations that is now reaching breaking point. Murphy's law triumphs again. Time to go back to the drawing board?

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