DEAR PRIME MINISTER

Posted by SCA on  August 30, 2019 |
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30 August 2019

 

AN OPEN LETTER VIA ELECTRONIC DELIVERY TO:

The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Prime Minister of Australia

Good day Prime Minister Morrison,

The young person in the photograph is Maya Grace Anderson.

Maya is our beloved daughter, although, in many ways, she is a child of all Australia, descendant as she is from two centuries of Australian ancestors and having lived the entirety of her life from age 1 in this nation.  She has grown up surrounded by not less than four living generations of greater – and quite decidedly –  Australian citizen family. Maya’s bloodline have been present in Australia from the earliest years of the 19th century – not an indolent leaner amongst them – and in fact, some significant, quite verifiable, drivers of the nation’s wealth.

Maya has not left Australia since we resettled with our greater Australian family seven years ago and she has no lived experience or even memory of the Philippine archipelago in which she was born.  I am not a Philippine citizen.  I also hasten to add, that Maya does not live “partially” overseas, nor does anyone in our family – there is, in short, no nuancing, in any way, about our place within Australia, even as modern Australian statutory subtleties find perfectly legal causality for so many others to affect a quite casualised, though perfectly legal, relationship with Australia and even as such parties hold no fears for their children’s futures and may, in many cases, find no historical or familial association to country – this last consideration being somewhat more incidental, though worthy of contemplation, when framed by our own broader narrative and the profound, perfectly legal, segregation we endure within Australia. Maya, like every member of our house, has never so much as departed the Australian continent of her ancestors since 2013.  More curiously too, Maya, like my wife and son, haven’t even existed outside the Australasia / Indo-Pacific region, for even a single moment, over the entirety of their lives.  I have not departed the Australasia / Indo-Pacific region in well over a decade, myself, and so any suggestion I have some association with Canada and America is just that, a quite increasingly nostalgic, albeit factually accurate, suggestion that is more imputation than actionable information.  We have become a most curious kind of refugee story amidst our global categorizations within Australia, even as such classifications, quite paradoxically, have rendered us caught quite fast indeed between the legislative mangroves of our once clearly defined Australian ancestry, modern Australian citizen family and home.

All of these aforementioned, eminently verifiable truths and facts (facts being true but not all truths being facts), shall not collectively be likely to stop Maya’s deportation at or about age 18 but not later than 23 – just as such broader detail have not granted us reprieve from being amongst the most legislatively segregated houses in the Australian Commonwealth.  Fair dinkum?

As a multicultural, multiracial, multinational family seeking only a field of fair play as we battle the burdens of a disabled child (Maya’s brother Dylan), made quite invisible before government upon the Australian continent, descendent of centuries of ancestral Australian family, not an idle member amongst us; industrious, profoundly hard working, honourable and ever-present, we should be the personification of modern Australia.  We are instead, perhaps the most lawfully segregated house within some 9,000,000 dwellings inside this nation.  Where our broader merit is considered we may actually be the most segregated and legislatively discriminated house in the nation, even where unintended consequence place us thus – a broad church indeed, but within which we may occupy that very distinct and unsolicited pew.

Where Maya had been born in Australia, instead of arriving at age 1, she would of course, be accorded automatic Australian citizenship when she turns ten – in less than two years and our family’s nightmare would be brought to a merciful end, even where such birth in Australia had been of two “foreign parents” – Australian by ancestry, residence and family being not nearly as powerful as Australian under law.  The finite subtleties of both time and policy protocols have borne a disproportionate weight and consequence upon our house, as I dare say you’ll agree by the time you finish this correspondence – at least privately, if not publicly – though I hope with respect of both. Primary amongst those variables, that now so foul any equality for Maya, is her brother Dylan’s autism.  Her brother’s disability has robbed her of much but it showcases the profound care and resilience of this little girl, even as such diagnosis upon her brother has really crippled us all, where Australia has effectively condemned us for the sins of our collective sacrifice in service to Dylan.

The Australian Citizenship (Amendment) Act 1986 defined a child born in Australia as only being an Australian citizen where at least one parent was an Australian citizen or permanent resident, though the further changes in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 now legally recognise a child born in Australia to foreign nationals, and who has lived in Australia, as automatically acquiring Australian citizenship at their 10th birthday – none of this statute applies to a little girl in her ancestral lands from age 1, who must go through life forever branded a “temporary visitor” in the only nation she has ever known and from whence she is descendent by centuries, without even access to the dignity of a Medicare card – a privilege enjoyed by any punter having a go at permanent residency from any of 11 RHCA nations with nary a tie to country. I need not belabour the point but such layered exclusion and denial of access only compounding our misery even as our life is made ever more challenged against the crushing burden of our son’s disability – both children made too often invisible by increasingly nuanced policy of government attached to otherwise perfectly sound legislative bulkhead of state.

It gets decidedly darker still, for Maya, Prime Minister.  The variances around her 18th and 23rd year of life that shadow, as they make it quite impossible to precisely pinpoint, the final act of legislatively affected immorality to be visited upon this child, are affected by such attendant variables as my premature death or Maya remaining in post-secondary study.  Maya’s enrolment in tertiary study would “grace” her a “privilege” to exist to year 23 or thereabouts, to draw breath within the only nation she has ever known and from which she forms eight generations, albeit perpetually and profoundly segregated by legislation and attendant policies – because her inflated fee structure as a “foreign student” would be of capital benefit to government.  I ask you to consider if Maya is really a “foreign visitor” or an “aggregate driver of economic value” or should she be considered a human being and one with deep, true, authentic, genuine and bona fide claim to Australia even where current legal nuance makes it contestable at law.

Again, and only because I think it bears such contemplation, as a profoundly hard working, multicultural, multiracial, multinational family doing it tough in support of a disabled son, who uphold every value and tenet of faith in their Australian nation of descent, we should be among the brightest shining examples of modern 21st Century Australia – we are instead amongst the nation’s most legislatively disadvantaged and marginalised.  An outcome really so profoundly extraordinary upon close analysis of detail as to make us a story of not just miraculous success but unexplainable survival. One need not dwell too long upon detail to realise that such a life has, and will continue to have, profound mental health consequences, even where legislation’s consequences were unintended, upon a child, like Maya – a human being so full of life, love, kindness and set to be effectively scrapped by Australia even as that same nation’s lawful segregation tears away at her health and well-being.

Must Maya really be denigrated so long, over so much of her life, that the mental health consequences manifest before some future leaders, who take a collective breath at the damage wrought, only to suggest we contact Lifeline or Beyond Blue, in service to the attendant mental health crisis; even as we will have spent a lifetime desperately petitioning the very agent of causality in the guise of government, for rational and fair preemptive power to change the very crisis we clearly foresee and plead to forestall? Is this fair, reasonable or even sane?

Maya needs and deserves to be a permanent legal resident in Australia and I invite you to become part of the solution, even as today I seek to make you very much aware of the problem.  You, or the good staffer tasked with the first reading of my increasingly lengthening correspondence, may suggest I seek legal counsel.  I have.

I can assure you I have canvassed and engaged scores of personalities across a broad range of the public and private sector, at considered length and profound cost to time and purse, both so dear against our segregation, in an inevitable descent down a rabbit hole no one could have ever  imagined we’d face within the family’s ancestral Australian lands, framed by the simple desire to parent a beautiful little girl so full of promise as we protect her disabled brother, whom none of us, including the Commonwealth, understood to be unwell when we made permanent – yes, permanent – settlement in Australia.  The modern Australian visa now forming over 100 variant visas may have been industrialised, and in such outcome seen words like “temporary” and “permanent” nuanced to within a few iterations of retaining their very meaning, but such would not stop most honest Australians from recognising we have been home – not visiting – just as we were not “gaming” an advantage to find a way into citizenship, as if it were an asset classification, the latest commodified product in a world that has too often lost its moral way, where the dollar no longer drives but occupies every degree of directive.  Australia is home.  Australia has been home.  Australia should have been safe.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  We are, in a great many ways, now more vulnerable than countless refugees who’ve been rightfully embraced by this nation.

I now reach out, specifically, to the man in the top job – yourself – as Prime Minister. I reach out to you as a direct appeal for Maya, because I think wasting a human life is a disaster.  I think setting one up to be destroyed is unforgivable.

I respectfully wish you to consider that there is little sophistry, though much urgency, in such sober statements and I seek your audience that attendant remedy can be found with all reasonable speed, though after so many years in limbo any connotation of rapidity rings rather hollow to the ear.

Maya lives about the length of a rugby pitch from her grandparents, who play an active role in her life, as do her extended Australian kin from Brisbane to Perth and points between. Eight generations of our family have made Australia home since the early 19th century, in point of obvious fact, our family, like yours, Prime Minister, predate the very name Australia and Federation. Despite these quite verifiable facts and that glaring one around Maya having lived continuously and exclusively in Australia since age 1, within this most decidedly Australian family, legislative policy changes have fouled our house in ways no one could have envisioned and few would, at least privately, endorse.

Maya has had to affect legal compliance in Australia as a “temporary person” in a curious kind of legal perpetuity because, while the Howard Government changes to the Trans-Tasman Agreement in 2001 may have set to affect a more formal relationship between the Tasman nations of New Zealand and Australia, the fate of some families, like ours, have been disproportionately, even punitively impacted by the nuanced consequences of that 2001 policy shift in ways unintended and disproportionately profound.  Our family have been intrinsically present and fundamentally interwoven across both Tasman nations – for centuries – and so the effects of the 2001 Howard Government changes upon our family, have come to be profound and exponentially more severe than the policy framers may well have intended, especially where Australia is quite clearly home, in all ways but that which matters most – before the law.  Mum may have lived longer in Australia than any nation in the world, and she may have harkened from New Zealand and returned Down Under to Australia at a time when citizenship distinctions were so incidental as to be non-existent, but my own anomalous birth in Canada, and the birth of our children in the Philippines have not so much highlighted our modern Trans-Tasman family as unequivocally destroyed any sense of identity and belonging for this house in our family’s quite Australian home.  We may well be a multicultural, multiracial and multinational family but such wealth of diversity should reflect what we are – a most emphatically, proudly, inclusive Australian family.  Our diversity should not be used as a tool by which to exclude us.  That is not fair dinkum. We should not find our legitimacy so degraded by nuanced policy in service to a visa industry that has arguably lost its moral compass – at least where the needle sets upon our direction home but the Australian state, as legal navigator, tells us it’s some other direction.  Again, the greater benefit of migration is nothing I would dispute and the broader migration and visa debate is not my remit with you, only the specific tragedy such complexity of systems, serving such human traffic, have come to cast upon our house and the family dwelling therein, who are, by all rational measure and categorization – home.

I wish to also acknowledge the sad irony and necessary inclusion within this letter, that is the passing of former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fisher, under the First and Second Ministries of John Howard.  Tim Fisher was a man of strong values and enduring faith, too early taken from this world last Thursday, who I dare say, would not be so inclined to endorse the effective and nuanced destruction of a good Australian family, for their sacrifice in service to a disabled child bound up by autism. Tim knew more than a bit about such parental struggles. We are indeed, the standard we walk past and I feel very strongly that Tim Fischer would not have “passed by” and would have quite literally stopped to listen and more so still, I believe he’d have been moved to act.  He was that kind of personality. I can only hope his ideals have left a resonance upon the party and cabinet rooms in the 20 years since he stepped down from the Deputy leadership role at 20 July 1999.  The word I hear invoked by media in his passing was his authenticity and the comment that it was so scarce these days. Tim understood the fight for family and the truthful definition of home and country.  He also knew how to separate nuance from merit.  His passing is missed and I hope my fear is unfounded that such candor is too much wanting in the modern political landscape, across the spectrum.

Today, before this political spectrum, our own family find ourselves not just divided between nations but a family quite literally divided within itself; my wife and I not sharing citizenship in any nation and, in fact, our four-person house finding lawful immigration compliance within Australia under cover and colour of three different nation’s passports across two separate, distinct and markedly unequal visas. My wife and children are, in fact, on Day 591 of a bridging visa, as part of their latest visa iteration and ongoing journey towards a place of no permanence of place – I repeat, no permanence.

That my own parents safely, seamlessly and legally returned Down Under, to live continuously in Australia, over a quarter century ago means nothing against a highly nuanced system of legislative analytics than leave us trapped in a tangle – an inescapable snare within which no good family should be left to suffer.  We live, we work, we pay our taxes assiduously, we love, we honour, we contribute, we exist, year after year, after years – we did not come for a visit and a walkabout – we came home.  Let us be home under the protections of law, for only that legal definition of home appears to matter in this most modern and increasingly litigious world.  Nothing less than Maya’s existential future relies upon her possessing a legal definition of home.  I ask you to contemplate this  child returned to the centuries deep nation of her Australian ancestry, a child of such profound gifts and embodying the very tapestry and timbre we herald for the future of this nation, being relegated to a disposable status against what is – to be fair – little more than paper thin statutory structure, expressed in dubious legislative policy nuances, that some would be forgiven for considering had been constructed in the passing fashion and otherwise stitched up with the needle of colloquially defined weasel words.  Again, I intend no impertinence, only a clear understanding of what and for whom I advocate and the staggering complexity and power against which I must petition, in that advocacy’s search of remedy.

Maya’s birth in the Philippines has only exacerbated the myriad legislative nightmares that sees us caught hard, fast and intractably within dispirit policy protocols from which we desperately try to find escape only to be further found foul of still more nuanced legislative policy protocols – an endless riptide that may be tiring to read, though I only invite you to consider living such a life to find, by compare, a kind of perfect solace to the reader in the few minutes this letter shall consume of your own life.  You cannot, Prime Minister, begin to imagine how disheartening and distressing this has all come to affect upon a child so full of life, love and promise – who merely wanted to grow up and know some sense she would be allowed to fullfill even that modest ambition that is growing up to be an adult- though with Maya I would not be surprised her take a tilt at the top job sometime around 2050, if only she’d be allowed the basic dignity of existing in the only home she has ever really known.

You have surely known heartache but you can never know the burden such outcomes, like those visited upon our son Dylan as they have been made whole in the life of our daughter, and how such distress has been thusly imposed upon us, as parents – fouling an already troubled struggle to keep the path straight where a child is unwell – we are up to the very edge Prime Minister and no amount of policy subtlety, even as it finds the broader integrity of a legal narrative, makes what is happening to us right.  Maya is a child of Australia, present in Australian continuously from age 1, and it bears repeating, had she been born here a year earlier, then less than two years hence this nightmare ends because legislation would afford her legitimacy of Australian citizenship and full family unification.  I think the Australia of our home, family and ancestry is more than nuance and found foul by what is really little more than statutorily allowable wiggle room – of the cruelest compartmentalisation.

We have endured unspeakable segregation across each of Maya’s formative years, in a misery now set to fully define the salient legal causeway of causality that will not see her find resolve of citizenship in less than two years at age ten but instead see her waiting for an inevitable removal order, or otherwise legally sacrosanct outcome that is the incapacity to affect the charade of her “temporary place” within the only nation she has ever known.  She will be effectively dispatched into some offshore world she did not seek and does not know.  Such consequence may find comportment under law but, as we both know, being legal doesn’t always make it right – as a review of another immigration act, the Immigration Restriction Act 1901, and its progeny that was the White Australia policy, reminds us all.  There is nothing quite so confronting as lawful prejudice set upon people who are good, contributing, industrious and who otherwise belong.  Maya should not be let to grow tall, only to be cut down, like a poppy in Flanders fields; for while such violence upon her in Australia was unintended, the destruction of life is not meted by motive, only measured by the same dark outcome, and should give any civilized actor grave pause while also serving as a call to action, that such grim ends not befall the innocent.

Ministerial intercession would change this most unfair outcome and so I have earnestly reached out to the good Minister, David Coleman.  Where no one can be found to be above the law, let the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) New Zealand stream visa application serve as a legislative mechanism while affording a moral resolution.  The analytics of that process itself, however, a matter of concern, which I have addressed to the Minister in my letter dated 15 August 2019, to his office.

A one year determinant – Maya’s age at arrival, has unleashed even more grossly disproportionate nuances upon a family that have been nuanced to within an inch of their lives, even as they do so before the challenge of a disabled child within a family where I alone am even entitled to that basic dignity of Medicare. As 5,000 plus persons exit the industry that is private health cover I implore you to consider the burden, the jeopardy and the quite decided misery that befalls us where even the dignity of access to universal health is slammed unapologetically shut upon Maya, her brother Dylan and mother Marilyn.

You deign to despise the “Canberra Bubble” and a bloated bureaucracy while affirming “a fair go for those who have a go” and so I ask you to work with me to end the unintended consequences of a legislative nuance that now rains down upon us with the force of a most decidedly destructive man-made storm that is quite literally destroying a good – and yes, quite Australian family in a kind of tempest that allows no expression of fairness for we that have not only had a go – but worked in ways that should be celebrated for defining the nation’s very principals of service, sacrifice, hard-work and family.  To not call this family Australian is, well, un-Australian. A family that see no fairness or equity of inclusion for all that they affect in their endless goings – that only see us prohibited from any kind of meaningful permanent arrival. To enshrine and protect such outcome under policy subtleties is to defend the indefensible.

This house exists on the thick side of merit but pierced quite cleanly upon a most thin wedge of law.

After what we have been made to endure in Australia we would be forgiven for wanting to go home tomorrow, if that home existed anywhere other than Australia.  It does not exist anywhere other than Australia, Prime Minister; not in any literal, rational, meaningful, genuine way.  The vagaries of our family’s citizenships may afford the cynical a rationale by which to apply the leverage of further finite distractions and pressure upon our house but we have no authentic, life, job, community, home or even future design of cosseted abode, in reserve or otherwise, tucked just outside your purview – we affect no such fantasia nor seek no gaming of the system, even where it were to be legislatively allowed.

As I said to David Coleman, in that same correspondence, dated 15 August 2019, “We have been too long denied the legal right to call Australia home or invoke any rights as Australians and we did not come broken but have been made sick by law and by country.  We ask your help in restoring us to health, that we may continue to fulfil the legacy of our family and that Australian nation in which that family has so long prospered and in turn provided so much prosperity.”

Maya’s grandmother walks with her to school each day.  As noted, my mum has been back home Down Under for over a quarter century, and no more unique an existential marker, than my twin brother (Maya’s uncle) lives down the Bruce Highway in Brisbane with his wife and children – yes, Australians.  There are numerous other relatives in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and other jurisdictions within the Commonwealth.  The very blood and bone of Maya’s ancestors rest in the soil of this continent and have found such sacred repose for centuries.  Such truths holding no equity however, in the increasingly cynical determinants of worth in this world even as there is, quite clearly, nothing incidental, opportunistic, sudden, confected or demeritorious about our familial claim to Australia.

We are, in the face of this great muddle, left defined as a most square peg, trying to find home, in the now very rigid round resolve that is our ancestral and modern familial Australia. I truly don’t think John Howard, himself, would endorse our fate as fair or remotely reasonable.  Still, here we are in a jeopardy that denies us hope even as it sets to ultimately undo a child as good, studious, mannered, kind, so full of promise and yes, Australian, as Maya – who, after a literal lifetime within country, will find nothing resembling the equity of access to a life she surely deserves to know.

A little girl having lived the entirety of her life against impossible exclusions and enshrined segregations only to face one last coup d’ grace as she should be embracing the challenges of life in Australia as an adult.  Instead queued up for deportation like a once useful asset now dispatched for lack of authority or utility. This is all tied to a recasting of human capital in service to economy under visa variants – and while that broader topic is not my remit today it must be acknowledged for its role in affecting utterly immoral consequences, even where unintended, as such policy narrative has been let to quietly but effectively foreshadow the end of Maya’s dreams, life and quite literal existential future in her Australia.

Our Australian legislative odyssey has not been without occasional, if fleeting, moments of hope through the years.  Your predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull’s bid to affect greater parity in the integrity of Tasman relations, via that previously noted Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) New Zealand stream finds no favour for our house, where the autism diagnosis of Maya’s brother Dylan translates to a denial of inclusion to the visas overall capacity to have once been decidedly fit for purpose – at least it was at 23 February 2016, when Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement… then the conditions portending best economic outcome to Government were defined and our hope was again dashed.

I understand the Government’s desire to safeguard our ancestral Australia from the criminal and the indolent but where neither categorization of indolence nor criminality reflects this house we are, again, left – at best – as an unintended consequence of legislation.  The attendant policy protocols, increasingly narrowed to achieve the greatest financial position of benefit to the state, often at the reduction and even exclusion of all other merit considerations, rather starkly defines the primary interest at play here.   Dylan’s diagnosis, determined shortly after our return to country, has affected an outcome that now sees us made foul against that permanent residency visa, in which our value of character and place is pure and quite beyond reproach, but our monetised metric is deemed odious by the visa’s fiscally conscious policy protocol.  We are thus left, again, in limbo, disqualified from permanent legal recognition against the final barricade that is our perceived threat to the Commonwealth’s purse.  The absence of such strictly monetised bias would otherwise see us permanent residents and unified with our ancestral and broadly numbered modern Australian family.  The reason we are excluded is heartbreakingly, though perfectly clear, and rationale is defined by a price tag.  I only beg your indulgence and do not mean to convey commentary that is acerbic, only authentic and honest.

It’s incidental but no less considered, that such strict interpretation of state income benefit, or conversely, income threat, attends no distinction to any further consequences of generational indolence or criminality and so this winner-take-all of visa structure to the applicant generation is not only short term in its logic but cruel in its verdict against character, residence, broader worth and even generational incomes – this last point surely of no consequence to the current domestic product numbers, budget, or leadership mandate.   A sober and sincere thought to consider – from one, at least ancestrally, if not legally, defined Australian to another.  We did not enter Australia as convicts, but rather as drivers of business and governance; that our family have always been honourably comported finds some irony in our treatment two centuries onward.  Again, fair dinkum?

It’s also worth considering that we have had to bear unspeakable costings for even basic medical services in a nation we are descendent by centuries, even as countless others with nary a tie to country benefited from a reciprocity of health agreements Maya and her brother have never known – even as Dylan’s autism consumes no costly medicines, equipment or therapies but does indeed consume that most valuable asset I so willingly sacrifice but for which I am quite effectively punished for sacrificing – time. My very life forms a sacrifice of service for which I am drawn from greater ambitions to fulfill the most important mandate; protecting the life of someone more vulnerable, even as I find myself legislatively punished for such conduct in our family’s 21st century Australia. We surely seek no celebration for such sacrifice and principles but so too we find it quite curious indeed that we are made undesirable for such conduct by the policy protocols of the visa’s legislative authority upon a house so steeped in Australian history and conducting itself in a way that can only be defined as exemplary.

The Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) New Zealand stream contains an exemption to the income and health requirement, but these exemptions are painstakingly narrow and clearly in place to guard perceived and modeled capital threat to the economy.  My wage sacrifice in care of Dylan not only holds no worth to such moneitsed metric of the permaent residency visa but is recast as a negative value, just as Dylan’s autism itself is legislatively defined as a financial irritant to state and thus renders Dylan a lawfully undesirable person.  Polite protocol will attend a more measured explanation but our lives clearly affirm the veracity of my previous statements.  The exemptions are so narrow that a camel may have better luck going through the eye of a needle than we may find entry through such exemptions to permanent protection in our Australia.  I am left to somewhat stoically conclude that my once reasonable wealth, where it had been accompanied by a healthy child may not be absolutely certain with respect of entry to heaven (expanding on the camel as allegory in scripture to its metaphorical end) but Australia would’ve been perfectly achievable.  I think we are better than this, Prime Minister – all of us.  The sacrifices we’ve made, in service to Maya’s brother however, don’t bode well for our chances in our historical and modern family’s Australia. I put myself through university and I have built up businesses but I don’t fancy my chances of finding peace for Maya or her brother Dylan in Australia without help from your Ministry.  Again, I am not being glib but rather emphatic – I can’t afford to be obsequious any more than I can afford to be impertinent.  Our house is left in limbo, waiting endlessly, even as we find ourselves running out of that most valuable commodity of all – time.

I took very short-lived comfort when I learned Government had recently taken the threshold metrics by which disabled visa applicants are analysed from $40,000 over a lifetime to $49,000 over a decade.  However, I think you and I both know such symbolism has no meaningful or profound power of difference when we are discussing any disabled child with autism, as Maya’s brother has been made to endure and thus, such change only reminds us of our distinct place outside, despite forming so much of the inside – and while this “gentle” policy shift may tend to signal some sense of humane concern to the broader migration narrative, it is also cruel in many ways to family’s like ours, who belong here as much as anyone else, even as we possess a place of quite genuine permanence but can never be allowed to call home by that simple four letter name – home.  I should also point out, that a simple canvassing of any recognised industry expert or organization will confirm my unhappy but perfectly accurate conclusions. One is forgiven for contemplating that such changes, where they sound good in a soundbite often attend no real change for the vulnerable – making good use of social capital from well messaged media exposure can be understandably interpreted by many as somewhat cynical.  Again, I think candour and authenticity of message, like Tim Fisher often resonated, serve our liberal democracy well.

We are thus left adrift upon the Australian continent, even as we have no foreign home or interests offshore nor any reasonable or rational measure by which to be made to effectively flee into that broader world, for that is what we would be doing, as de-facto refugees, surely in spirit if not in letter.  The irony of such an outcome should not be lost upon anyone, where we are compelled to contemplate a most shadowy exodus amid the one place that is home – in Australia; a country towards which so many seek to flee, as the embodiment of light, amidst the worlds increasing darkness is the very country that extinguishes our light as it seeks to drive us into that darkness.

We would be made to affect such forced exit from country with our disabled and quite decidedly vulnerable son, Dylan.  I ask you to consider the impact – and even feasibility –  of such a move upon the narrow misery of even this single consideration, as a piece of our myriad puzzle of grief – none of whose pieces we crafted from our own doings or misdeeds, as we are guilty of no such social transgressions. Still, we stand on the abyss of a most bottomless misery of probability.  Undertaking such a global move, with no resources is a kind of double jeopardy against a kind of already indefinite detention made finally definite in its exclusion of detention. I am left lost amidst such doublespeak which any lover of language so loathes.

Maya simply wants to grow up and live her life – in Australia – where the entirety of her known life has been lived, where her greater known family exist as Australians and where she quite authentically belongs.  I cannot underscore sufficiently the mental health consequences being cast upon this little girl, even as she struggles across the broader detail of our jeopardy and even as we try to obscure such detail from her profoundly curious nature.  As I wrote to your party room colleague, Andrew Wallace, our Federal Member for Fisher, with whom I have only had civilised exchanges in both face to face conversation and numerous correspondence, from a letter dated 30 April 2019, “While we have endeavoured to shield our children from the segregation we endure within Australia it is a predicament that has not evaded the attention of our young daughter, to whom we search for words of explanation, when she asks, “Why doesn’t the government like us?”  I can assure you, that whilst she couldn’t possibly understand the complexity of the predicament – such entanglements a challenge of comprehension to even many adults – she does know that we suffer beneath the burdens of her brother’s disability, and that such disability has found us treated very differently in Australia.  She knows, feels and sees the outcomes of our being made different within the only home she has ever known.  As a parent who has to witness the consequences of that segregation upon a child so overflowing with life, love and hope, I am being neither emotive nor unreasonable when I say the consequences of our treatment upon the child’s mental and physical health should be patently unacceptable, even repugnant, to any civilised member of this society.  We go onward, though we do so without any expectation our hope has the slightest justification.”

The notion we should be cast out of Australia is itself a curiosity, even as we are already made to live in a profound state of segregation and marginalisation, which we refuse to let ourselves morally succumb to, even as such legislatively endorsed discrimination continues to unfold and subsume our lives in increasingly dispirit expression until we are, at long last, finally consumed.  To all of this is the consideration that, more so still, none of we four souls of this house even share unity of citizenship – a narrative as odd as it is true, made more tragic where it becomes just one more element in our perfect storm where we continue to see Maya grow in the Australian eye of that unending and ever threatening tempest.  The existential death of this family is not hyperbole, it is a logical conclusion and my efforts are simply the evident and determined force of a loving father determined to not let the Australian government affect, even where unintended, the destruction of this family.  I am not your opposition.  I am merely a very lone actor trying to make you aware of a family’s profoundly underserved jeopardy. Again, none of this is hyperbolic or misguided only a confluence of complexity made clear – fear driving action in the face of an otherwise inevitable fatal consequence is just common sense.  I invite you to help me drive towards sensible resolution.

Where Maya’s brother Dylan’s disability fouls our permanent residency bid, we must exist in perpetuity, a kind of immigration limbo, where I alone affect immigration “compliance” on a 444-visa while my wife, Marilyn, Maya and Dylan languish with a 461-visa in cyclic five-year issuance, that let’s their “temporary state” find lawful consequence.  The branding of my wife and children as “temporary visitors”, only compounds our vulnerability where income sacrificed in service to Dylan’s care, means they fall foul of even the dignity of Medicare (even where Dylan’s autism requires no expensive drugs, equipment or therapies – only that most profound commodity that is time) and even as the supplemental costs of basic medical dignity further catastrophise an already profoundly exposed house.   Marilyn works 52 weeks a year in backbreaking work, even as no reciprocity of hope exists and surely no aspiration is envisioned. We simply sacrifice all, assiduously honour our commitments and await an inevitable meeting with our family’s destruction.  Fair dinkum?

The RHCA (Reciprocal Health Care Agreement) with 11 nations, leaves Maya, her mother and her brother set one ring further inside their own circle of a legislative inferno, where none of the three find favourable accord.  Again, I know this is legislatively allowable, Prime Minister, but I don’t think it’s right and I’d wager you’d agree, at least privately – though as I said earlier, I hope publicly, too.  We may be the exception that proves otherwise reasonably rational legislative rules but the outcome upon this house is disproportionately unfair, even punitive in effect. Let us get on with our life but please don’t continue to let stand the destruction of Maya’s life after fulfilling every legacy and living example of what it is to be truly Australian and to be so at the highest expression of those values.

Amidst the ongoing psychological and physical effects of our ongoing segregation we have already been made to experience more suffering under more endless visa innings – and yet shown more resolve – than so many who’ve fallen under far less burdens of obligation.  We are not however immune from grief, just as we do not possess unlimited reserves of fortitude, even as such greater miseries continue to haunt our life – like the consideration of my sudden death, where this immigration issue is not resolved.

Setting aside the heartbreak that would be my early death to Maya; where that death were to occur before her 18th birthday; and where such an event were to coincide with the end of whatever latest iteration of her 461-“temporary”-five-year-visa is in effect, it would come to pass that Maya would be legislatively ineligible to affect compliance for a “new” 461-visa and find dispatch to some foreign shore she has never known, probably the Philippines (because her mother is not Canadian, as I am, by birth, but not having lived in that nation since I, myself, was a child, my Canadian father having long departed this world).  Maya would face an effective exile to the Philippines, post haste, where no such compliance regime tied to my own life and visa would let her grim, but at least existent 461-visa find form in Australia.  My heartbeat keeps her from being torn from her Australian family and the only nation she has ever known since age 1 to be left in some developing economy in some nation whose language she does not speak and whose culture and people she does not know.  Fair dinkum?

This outcome would be tantamount to stepping into any suburb and randomly taking a child whose only known experience of life had unfolded in Sandringham, Kogarah, Blakehurst or Sylvania and planting them in immigration detention then dispatching them to Manila.  I don’t have words to describe the morality of such an outcome, that it finds any legislative authority whatsoever should, I believe, deeply concern any rational actor in Canberra.  I believe you to be a very rational actor.  Maya is already 8 years old, having arrived at age 1.  She is, by every consideration an Australian – imagine the compounded madness of removing such a child, no longer even a child, in the only nation she has effectively every lived sometime around age 18 or more maddening still, at age 23 for not only fulfilling her place in the social contract but defining its best participation.

To any secondary reader of this essay, I should note that the aforementioned suburbs exist within the electorate of Cook, which itself is the federal jurisdiction for the good Federal Member and Prime Minister of Australia.

Maya, unlike any other child having lived such a similar life experience in Australia, will face this outcome for not simply fulfilling, but exceeding the great expectations for what all good people value as the best and brightest of aspirational drivers within this nation – and doing so against a remit of challenge no child should ever have been tasked.  Such outcome, I trust you will agree, does not pass the pub test, fairness test, reason test or yes, the empathy test.  I am not even sure if it would stand a common law challenge but we are not so well funded from a purse of capital or time and so I turn to your capacity for fairness and reason.

The other primary marker, it should be noted, affecting Maya’s ultimate removal, from the only nation she has ever known would occur where she undertakes enrolment in profoundly expensive tertiary education.  The “export” that is the education of foreign students, now the third greatest driver of the Commonwealth economy, would see Maya’s enrolment in university or trade school, as a “temporary person” and legally designated “foreign national” effectively let her “stay” beyond her 18th year but not longer than her 23rd year (perhaps she’d be let to stay a year or two longer, where her “last-new” 461-“temporary”-visa sees a “bonus” of a few years longer where application was effected before age 23; Again, I beat the drum, for it needs to be heard – within her nation of ancestry, identity, four generations of broader very Australian family and yes, her very place in which she has lived all of her known life from that as a 1 year old child; no fly-in-fly-outs or other nuanced but perfectly legal  residency fulfillments, only an unbroken life in one nation – Australia.

I hasten to add, as I struggle to contemplate, how we’ll shoulder such tertiary costings against our already profound economic and civil segregation, indexed as she will be as a “foreign” student paying tuition rates up to 400% higher than “Australian” students, in service to the export of “foreign students” that is now the third greatest driver of the national economy (and the number one driver of the Victorian state economy).  Again, perhaps it was sound policy, in its broader application – that is not my comment – but the effect and unintended consequences upon this house is neither sound, fair nor reasonable; and that, very much should be taken as a very clear, sober and strong comment.  I think such an outcome should be confronting to everyone claiming credentials to the civilized world and should deeply distress every conscionable member of the Australian community, especially those tasked with the stewardship of leadership in this nation, who have authority to remedy a dilemma so clearly bereft of fairness – that quality so critically intrinsic to any sense of justice.

A fair and reasonable remedy exists and we seek only rational and existent inclusion to find our application for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) New Zealand stream application find procedural pathway to the desk of Minister David Coleman, for his attendant consideration of our broader merit in the public interest under his discretionary authority.  The analytical prejudice occurring via the solely online submission practice, as our permanent residency visa must be made to find submission, via the Home Affairs digital portal, means even a literal capacity to submit the application through a simple physical submission is made impossible.

Do we meet character requirements of the visa?  Yes. Do we meet residence requirements of the visa? Yes.  Do we represent an existential threat to public health? No.

Such equality of place, on its own, was once sufficient, but for our family, so long an intrinsic part of Australia, it is not only insufficient –  it is not even close.

Even where modern practices seek to cost metric permanent residency, exemptions exist within the visa for such associated costing metrics, but we are effectively excluded from inclusion to these exemptions where we are caught in the tangle born of our sacrifice in service to Dylan’s disability. Even where we were not granted inclusion to the exemptions (as I echo the Jabberwocky) a simple submission of the application, even where it would ultimately be denied approval at the department level, would form a statutory component of process, said denial of application at departmental level honouring a complicated but legislative procedure towards broader merit review before the Minister – merit review being the sole domain, prerogative and discretion of the Minister. The analytic exclusion tool of online submission and attendant analytic exclusions makes the application unable to fulfill a broader path to merit review before the Minister and all parts of process are fouled. Catch-22.

Where a flaw in any system’s evolution is found it should be remedied.  Where such nuance is let to find protection at law, even as it destroys a family, should be troubling to anyone in a leadership role. I can only hope to petition to your sense of reason and fairness that the evolving consequence of highly nuanced policy attending otherwise good legislation not be allowed to see Maya be made to suffer even one day’s further mental duress than necessary and worse still, removal from home at some, as yet defined date,  in a way that should be seen as removing any genuine Australian child from Australia, especially after such ongoing mental duress has been allowed to legally run its course against only misery and monetised metric of worth.

Such an outcome is a travesty of Australian values.  It is both un-Australian and absent any natural justice.   The dispossession of Maya, at some as yet undefined future date, affirmed by some faceless, essentially nameless, agent of whichever department is, at that time, to be tasked with immigration matters is not reflective of the ideals upon which the Commonwealth of Australia was founded – a federal union that Maya’s predecessors predate by almost a century and whose contributions helped make such federation the strong union it is today.  Our ancestry is not quite as long as the First Fleet or your own kin but in a nation so acutely aware of descent and imposed disadvantage I think the conduct accorded Maya is quite decided egregious.

If I may be allowed to paraphrase Apollo 13 astronaut John Swigert to NASA Mission Control, a calm voice of reason, amidst a tempest of catastrophe quite literally filling a universe sized teacup, “Canberra, we have a problem.”  I am not being glib when I affirm that the plight of children, like Maya and her brother, Dylan, who are, by any rational, residential, historical, familial and existential measure Australian.  In an effort to distill focus we should not have to seek substantive metaphor in outer space nor surely fight against the grounded foundation of exclusion in legislation that has, despite the best design intentions, resulted in an unequivocal destruction that is the life of a young girl named Maya Grace Anderson and her brother, Dylan Ryder Anderson.

It would be a profoundly unlikely challenge to chase and test the legislative integrity of the nuanced policy outcomes as they’ve fouled Maya’s house in the courts, before which no such likely capacity of time or capital could be dreamed, much less effectuated.  Again, I turn to Government for a sense of fair play.  I don’t believe everything must be brought to bear upon endless articles, submissions, arbitration, advocacy and court challenges when Minister Coleman possesses the authority to let might affect right.  Strong and good power should not be made to yield only before public protest or court order – I believe good people, especially where legislative mechanisms exist, can do the right thing.  It’s a provincial and pedestrian sentiment but heavens, if we need such consideration, it is surely in this hyper-legal, most vexing and all too often disingenuous world that attends service before capital metric but too little concern, too often, to too much else.

We had long hoped such unintended confluence of policy protocols, as they have come to affect our house, would compel someone in leadership to help us find remedy. Those from whom we’ve sought help, however, whether private legal professionals or public government authorities, have, thus, far, only taken refuge in the shallow shoals that tender cover of highly nuanced policy thickets that rebuff our plight, even as said parties are often quite empathetic to our straights and our inevitable end.  A kind of statutory policy mangrove has ensued, attending as that policy does very thin reed in its attachment, but while limited in integrity is also perfectly restrictive and ultimately affecting to an end for Maya and set to eventually drag her under as it drags her out from the shore of her ancestral and familial Australia.

I think such a fate, like that queued up for Maya, should bother you as much as me, but Maya is not your child and rationalising the misery of others is a complex predicament to many souls, even fundamentally good ones, which too often find allowance within minds that grapple with the vagaries of moral authority – not merely legislative authority and an accompanying code of ethics.  You are the leader of this nation and remedy to our plight exists in statutory authority but it all, ultimately, finds shepherding under your leadership.  I have painstakingly – perhaps, even more so than the staffers in Minister Coleman’s office would have liked (length of letter often being an unintended consequence the painful remit for which I bear burden).  I shan’t belabour this particular letter longer than already necessary and leave it to your own staff to pursue said correspondence from Minister Coleman’s office to affect broader comprehension of our predicament from that good Minister’s staff.  We need your help and we seek your involvement.  That is all I can ask.

Unless Maya, and the house she forms are granted permanent residency, Maya will live with a diminishing sense that she actually deserves to belong in the only nation she has ever known – over the fuller scope of the only life she has lived, within a nation from whence she is clearly descendant, to which she rather emphatically belongs, and where she is clearly and unambiguously home.  Her inevitable sense of worth shall be categorically and irrefutably impacted by such segregation and ultimate exclusion. I can only petition the already oversubscribed request upon your time but sometimes underscoring the absurdity of the obvious is something we need to consider in the case of what is unfolding upon this little girl and her family – over years and not moments – and I can only beg your indulgence against a most critical mandate, where I’ve taken longer liberty with my letter than intended.

Maya has but one life, after all, and that life is set to be scuttled by the very nation of her ancestry and home.  Maya’s life should not be made to be lived in such mental distress, especially where the house she forms lead such exemplary and selfless lives and already weather unspeakable challenges.  Such exorcise of state authority may find essentially clumsy and nuanced complexity in perfectly legal authority over Maya’s fate but, as I hope you’ll agree, before you forget about us, it also lacks all moral authority.  Help us and in so doing see the moral authority of law strengthened even as no legislative integrity suffers for such care.

The effective deportation order Maya faces, at some as yet defined date, because her brother’s autism fouls our Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) New Zealand stream application rests on nuanced statutory timbre but is desiccated by a profound absence of moral decency. When Dylan was diagnosed we did not shirk our moral duty and yet, for the sins of our service we have been vetted for permanence against a costing metric that now sets to punish us –  even as no such language would ever be invoked, the outcome has quite clearly, punished us mercilessly for upholding only the best of values against a remit we did not seek and could not have anticipated.  We are not a commodity. Yet, that monetisation of our life’s value is precisely – and the sole reason – why we cannot see our place of permanence in Australia lawfully enshrined.  We have been made “unacceptable and insufficient” solely against a monetised metric. This is the expressed judgment of Government, even where such verdict is not made public, upon a family that rises each day at 5:00 a.m. (where Dylan’s needs, as they dictate, have not drawn us from those precious reserves marked by sleep, a sleepless night uncommon), seven days a week, 365 days a year, in a kind of endless and decidedly honourable service to sick child.  We seek no accolades for such acts but by equal index we should surely not be found wanting.

As my letter of 15 August 2019, to the good Minister Coleman’s office affirmed, “Where systematic computational algorithms have replaced the once discretionary authority of government workers in Australia, grappling with an increasingly expanding class of visas; and where such immigration policy and protocols have been allowed to affect a broad mandate of monetised metrics over merit, I wish to note that death by analytic noose is not the better handiwork of leadership.  We can do better – and with respect, we must do better – the very lives of children now rely upon such outcomes.”

Where Maya has been made to endure the endless mental health duress of our jeopardy, I think it may come to distress you, especially as a leader who has spoken about the need to reduce the scourge and effect of poor mental health, and I believe the outcomes being affected upon both children should deeply concern the broader community.  I still believe in the fundamental goodness of people and a genuine sense of fair play.

Where I now find myself in the very difficult place of being made to stand on a side that may tend to oppose your Government’s policy position on this immigration matter, I take very limited solace in a belief that while a family like ours was not your target of intent, we are, no less, positioned for exclusion; a predicament made so much worse, where our critically considered mental health has suffered terribly under such segregation.  We now look to await our date with the end of the only life we have collectively known as a family, in Australia, even as it may come after decades, in which we’ve only attended the most principled sacrifice before a disabled child fundamentally forgotten by the state, except where the state has chosen to engage us at all through a punitive touch, by effectively punishing us for such attendant care of our disabled son – and for exemplifying the very values that should otherwise define this nation’s good people.  My wife and I cannot even be compelled back to a country of shared familiarity – our story’s very truth bested only by its very complexity.  A complexity this letter seeks to resolve. I think we both could admit, even privately, that a principled stand holds significantly less force than a well-capitalized stand but here we stand nonetheless in firm belief that the fundamental values that have so long driven the resilience of this nation shall see us through to the final inning – not out.

We should not see Government work to close one gap, even as it unintentionally creates a new crevice into which an admirable family is pushed, against that family’s every worthy effort to arrest their fall. The lifetime integrity of a child, like Maya, should not be let to find catastrophe in inequality and ultimate dismissal of place. Such outcome has no resonance of the merit we deeply defend and otherwise define as Australian.

I did not pick this contest, nor do I think it fair we have even been made to petition our place or debate our integrity and right to permanently belong; especially but not only where I advocate and seek to engage you from a modest position of such clearly defined vulnerability amidst a larger Australian family that have been a contributory force within this country for generations.  Again, I can only hope that having been made more fully aware of our predicament you will find our request not only modest but duly serving the public interest of a nation this house and its family have served for centuries.  We are an Australian family by any genuine, reasonable, historical, and fair sense of the word.  We are not a monetised product.  We are, quite indisputably, good and principled people, with significant broader Australian family, and similarly honourable and generations deep descendancy within this nation. We deserve a fair go because we do far more than have a go and yet we are made to languish in a limbo no one should know.

Our Trans-Tasman integrity should be something to cherish and we once took our family’s honourable service and significant contribution across both Tasman nations as a point of pride for a very long time and without much broader notice, producing as we did bankers, graziers, hoteliers, garment makers, and even parliamentarians.  The free movement over centuries across the Tasman, hardly a one-off anomaly of a single member, has defined our house and affirms our sense of place, home and belonging within the Australian side of that long Tasman family.

As I stated in that same previously referenced letter of 13 September 2018, to our Federal Member, Andrew Wallace, “We accepted long ago that our son’s disability would define us as a family and similarly acknowledged that his handicap would either make us impenetrable or it would destroy us.  We were never tempted by immorality or illegality, however grave our station had been made and no matter how often we saw others invoke explanation for wrong doing where such deeds flowed from disadvantage.  We did not give up.  We did not “game” the system or seek pity.  We committed in ways that I pray most families never have to contemplate to keep our family safe and strong.  For the sacrifice of our sins, which is what our virtue has become under the nuances of visa programming and policy modeling, our efforts have been futile and the subsequent “Income” and “Health” requirements of the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream, where they are not granted exception, will only come to personify that hopelessness and our application will fulfil a doctrine of absolute meaninglessness and futility.” 

Our pre-emptive entry to the permanent visa’s exemptions have been closed to us; where both Minister Coleman and Andrew Wallace have independently informed us that  no such entry to the categories legislatively existent exemptions, is allowed to us – and so the remedy I have presented to the Honourable Minister David Coleman, that such application be allowed physical submission, that it find legislative passage to his desk, where our broader merit permits a review that is surely in the public interest.  I have, in these pages, today, sought to make you aware of the profound segregation and conflict within which we exist and the specific issues as they thwart our pathway to permanence under the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream, a permanent residency visa.

We have been seeking clarity through the affectuation of this Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream for over a year now, in service to children who are centuries descendent of this continent, who deserve to know they are indeed home and where such resolve is now a matter of profound and urgent distinction for us all.  We are not so much at the pointy end of the sword as we are about to be pierced by that same sword. I believe I have found a means by which law in both letter and spirit can be honoured and I invite you to confer with Minister David Coleman, that details may be conveyed to your office.  I wish to note that I infer no hubris or expectation only the hope you will find my conveyance of thoughts to be reasonable and accord us the outcome we so urgently require and which I earnestly know we have earned and deserve. A fair go.

The Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream, a permanent residency visa, is a legislative document the collective members of this house, and all invested stakeholders, should agree is reasonable in its recognition of this family and the specific and ultimate protection of these quite decidedly Australian children.  Maya and Dylan should, most emphatically, be recognised as permanent residents and in due course, reflecting only expectant and ongoing upstanding lives, find themselves Australian citizens. Where they may come to be defined multinationals let being Australian proudly reflect form in such definition.

I similarly think it safe to suspect that all government stakeholders in this matter are well versed in the relevant legislation, including the Migration Act 1958, the Migration Regulations 1994, and the policy protocols established around the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream visa.  The confluence of additional legislative predicaments and the broad totality of all legislative nuance should not continue to suppress this family any longer.  We should find remedy and our family be allowed, at long last, to find the resolve of place, as we be allowed to watch Maya grow into the woman we know she deserves to fully aspire towards; free from legislatively allowed obstruction.  Another political figure from another nation in the world’s last century, the late Adlai Stevenson wisely speaks from history and reminds us all that, that which unites us is far greater than that which divides us.  Finite policy distinctions upon a genuine family in the Australian community should not be so profound in effect as to not only divide a family but tear it apart, even where such dismantling occurs after the current political actors may have left the stage.  We are all made lasting by our legacies and all ultimately responsible for our pasts.

As you will see by looking closely at our family history, we have contributed significantly to both countries and free movement was always based on aspirational drivers that reaped great benefit to both Tasman nations.  We seek nothing less than the very freedom to exist and aspire, within the Australian nation that defines our unique, even exceptional trans-Tasman family.  There is neither brinksmanship nor gamesmanship in our effort – only a call for fair and reasonable mercy against a most, thus far, merciless outcome.

Maya has grown up grappling with her only brother’s disability.  Her comportment through all of this has shown us just what a remarkable, tolerant, caring, intelligent and compassionate human being she is and continues to become.  She never got to walk to school with her brother.  She never got to know they had shared secrets and place within each other’s hearts.  Please let them both at least find the certainty of home, belonging and identity.  Please do not foul such progress one day longer than must be endured, under cover of lawful prejudice, in a house where enough suffering for a hundred households has already been visited. Maya has weathered such tragedy with a grace and bearing I don’t see in a dozen adults who’ve lived infinitely easier lives.  Maya has never endured anything but segregation in her Australian ancestral homeland even as she has confronted challenges you’ve never experienced, with a resolve I only pray you possess, where such virtue may be called upon in the face of a segregation I similarly pray you shall never know.

You and I both understand and surely agree that no defined body can survive long in this world without a well-capitalised foundation; whether we are discussing an individual, a household, a corporation, or even a nation. I also know you need the Australian immigration policies to drive the economy but this asset classing of the once pedestrian visa travel document has taken on a sweeping scope in this 21st century that should give any of us, that value democratic principles, and acknowledge an attendant respect for the value of a dollar, a reason to take pause.

Such complexity concerning the vagaries of the broader visa industry, is not, as noted, my burden of remit today;  but where one child of this nation is destroyed in service to that system of over 100 visas; a system, that I have found in my advocacy journey, far too many within government don’t even fully comprehend, the ensuing lack of public outrage is not just expectant but a surely quiet dividend, that only confounds the silence of this family’s own lawfully tolerated exclusion. Maya and her family form unintended but no less tolerated collateral damage amidst the vagaries of such realpolitik. As a man of principles, I suspect you will disagree with my categorisation but I respectfully ask you to consider and recognise the pain and segregation we endure as real family in Australia and – even momentarily – consider the consequences to my daughter Maya and her brother Dylan which cannot be more profound.  The statements of government officials that we reflect a normative expression of process, notwithstanding, our reality would quite strongly convey otherwise.  We were once easier to dismiss where the complexity of our predicament was unknown.  I am grateful to you, for affording me the opportunity today, to explain such germane detail to you.

I am going to continue clarifying the system and its cruelty to our children until we find light because the monetisation of this family and our children, as the sole barricade to our inclusion in our only known collective home is a most slippery slope towards a kind of country I dare say we both should take great pause to contemplate.  I wish to reiterate that I am of the strong belief that such an outcome, like that visited upon our house, was not the object of policy intent and yet we are, no less, an expression of its most profound and damaging effects. Our integrity is clear, our work effort obvious and our merit, I dare say, quite beyond dispute – yet, here we are, pleading for our very lives before you.

Maya’s mental health will only continue to decline.  She is far too bright, far too inquisitive and yes, far too empathetic, to not be affected by our jeopardy.  She will, as any family in Australia challenged by autism already knows, take on responsibilities borne of her own resolve and love of kin – values any good family affirms and for which they should not find punitive consequence upon already painful outcome.  I suspect we two Scotts, if I can be so informal, can both recall being eight-year-olds; most decidedly still children but possessing full capacity to understand what was happening to us.  I cannot fathom the consequences of our legislatively endorsed isolation and segregation upon Maya as she becomes older – as a teenager – those years becoming a causeway no doubt underpinned by a complete comprehension of our predicament that will surely be profoundly negative in its impact upon her psyche over the totality of that life going forward, even as such threats to her mental well-being are let to continue unfolding upon a child seeking only healthy development, within a house crippled by legislative marginalisation and segregation.  She is made of profoundly good stock and values but such will inevitably be hindered, potentially profoundly, by the lack of identity and economic vulnerability our state sponsored segregation continues to produce in our home and within the child.

None of this is ok, Prime Minister Morrison, and I am being neither hyperbolic nor emotive but rather, quite decidedly prescient.  I know what is coming and I cannot keep my head in the sand any more than we can simply be expected to work until we are found legislatively unwanted. Such an outcome is disgraceful and should be called out for what it is – Tim Fischer called a spade a spade and I call economic segregation for what it is: economic segregation.  I am similarly not being defiant but only deeply concerned and actively seeking to avoid what will be a disaster upon a house already far too battered by storms we neither created nor charted our passage into. We are lifters, even as we are being brutalized by forces we cannot possibly fight against, which lean down upon us. Again, there is little political equity in attending to a single family but why must public outrage be incited for good men to do something?  I am hoping this letter alone is sufficient, especially where you define yourself as a man of values.  I am going to accept that you are a man who walks the talk and I welcome the opportunity to see my assumptions affirmed.

I am not asking you to set aside the foundational dictates of an essential but imperfect economic imperative that finds the visa system now used as a significant source of Australia’s economic intake.  However, where that system has caught this family between the variant capital generating pillars of the Commonwealth we ask only that you grant recognition of our place within the broader church of this nation’s cultural values and let us affirm our quite decided Australian identity at law.  What kind of a country do we bestow upon our own descendants and what values frame that future Commonwealth?  There is a real opportunity, even anecdotally and incidentally, to affirm that order by act of compassion upon this good, decent, and decidedly Australian family and a little girl named Maya who surely should be among the torch-bearers into the next generation of Australians.

I remember the headline in The Courier Mail at 20 July 2013, “Fortress Australia” and the ensuing article by national political correspondent, Steven Scott.  I still recall the bold typeface and my thoughts at a time predating Dylan’s diagnosis, when we thought our ongoing acculturation and settlement was merely a challenge to define us – but the sound and fury around immigration was already gale force fierce and I thought even then, what had we gotten into by coming home at this time in our family’s history with Australia.  I saved the article and it’s in my collected library. I had grown up on long stay visits Down Under but that was, to me, a brave new world, indeed.  I was living Down Under with my siblings and family again but the spirit Down Under had become disconcertingly different.  We had no idea just how different, nor even how strong, those same dark storm clouds would come to collect over our little house. Had we known then… but there is little benefit to retrospective contemplation only the future application of lessons learned from our shared history. I maintain faith that our family will find resolve in our Australia but I fear for my daughter’s existence as I live in deep, understandable horror about my sons – absent intercession by your Ministry.

The world is a complex place, Prime Minister, and for complex people a wealth of schools of thought, philosophies, religions, personal and professional associations all define our personal world view.  Such gifts can enrich us but they can also offer us virtually any nuanced justification for a dismissive position of others, especially their struggles – this is indeed the burden and blessing of empathy upon every calm steward in a turbulent world’s waters.

I need not speak any further of the Howard Government’s changes this century and their impact on to the relations between the Tasman nations.  I do however, wish to bring to your direct attention that the consequence of those changes as they echo through the offer of the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) New Zealand stream, by your predecessor Malcolm Turnbull, that the cumulative effect of all such policy may not be more unfair and more savage in effect than they have been visited upon this house and the child named Maya Grace Anderson, as she is made profoundly and ever more divided from her own Australian family and any place of permanence.  She will already be tasked with burdens most cannot imagine, for I know my daughter, and she does not shirk duty of care, even where such mandate will be her choice. The duty to care is as intrinsic to Maya as her own heartbeat. If that the world was made of more such souls. Let Maya not be made damaged by forces we could have never anticipated, even as we hold such limited leverage to stop such forces from wreaking havoc upon our good lives.  We have invested so much over the years in Australia, as a house since our settlement and over centuries as a family.  I think a small reciprocity of basic dignity and equity of inclusion is not a massive ask against our broader merit.

We merely want to be home but this has taken on a proposition of profound proportions, where we are dispossessed of that critical legal definition – of being lawfully recognised Australians –  and thus left quite dispossessed indeed.

I believe I have expressed myself sufficiently and leave you to consider my remarks.  I close with a series of unanswered questions, as rhetorical as they are imperative:

What is home, Prime Minister? How long must one’s descendancy be in country to find legitimacy?  How many generations must be present within country to find historical form and let our children be called Australian?  How can a child, like Maya, so clearly connected to country, having lived the entirety of her known life in country, and more so still, also deeply tied through eight historical generations to country, be told at some distant date she faces an effective deportation order because some legislative nuance denies she exists as anything but a defined temporary visitor? What lexicon of the Jabberwocky is such prose in a liberal democracy as civilised as Australia let to find such finite but fast legal form?  Does the clarity of Maya’s own past, her decided present, and her long familial presence radiating an otherwise bright future, framed by genuine familial legacy, in the only nation she has ever known as home, not sufficient to see her legitimacy as forming a modest part of that nation? Is it not enough for a child whose shouldered more challenge than most face in two lifetimes to be recognised as belonging? Is it wrong to ask for equity of equality for a child so filled with a quiet dignity, that inspires others, even as it should shame those who deny her rightful claim to country?

We have faith but we are in grave need of a miracle.

I apologise that my letter has taken on a length I did not intend, but such seems to invariably find form, where I am discussing my family and this quite incredible trial, without end, that we must endure.  I now place my faith in you and await your reply.

With profound respect and humility,

Scott Anderson

Sippy Downs, Queensland

30 August 2019

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