Posted by SCA on  September 21, 2019 |

2800 words – about a 15 minute read

613 days … and counting.  As of yesterday this was the total count of days since my wife and children were issued a bridging visa that enshrines their legal immigration compliance in Australia; even as it tenders nothing new or permanent, except to perpetuate uncertainty as it ushers in more heartbreak, cost and segregation as my wife and children affect ongoing compliance towards application for a “new” “temporary” 461-visas with five year shelf lives or use-by dates of legal validity.  We have very much been turned into a commodity to be stored and used until unfit for use, consumption or sale.

The newest 461-visa means a “new” five years of being segregated and made non-class citizens; their “old” new 461-visa having long expired and never being called renewed because words like renewal could imply permanence – in the nomenclature of Home Affairs, this latest new 461-visa is “no longer valid” and a  “new” temporary visa shall push them well past a double digit years of residency without any recognition or hope of anything resembling legal permanence.

After what my wife and children have been made to endure in Australia, we would go home tomorrow, if that home existed anywhere else but Australia.  This place I now occasionally refer to as Terra Australis Incognita, that name for this part of the world as it was once considered in antiquity is, curiously, the land of our descendants by centuries, the only home our children have ever known – and then, there is the fact my wife and I don’t even share citizenship in a common country but our home tenders no comfort and no equality but much lawfully condoned exclusion and segregation.  Welcome to our hell where Terra Australis is quite incognita to my wife and children and more terror than terra.

A cut and paste request for additional documents arrived at 4:30pm, yesterday, Friday 20 September 2019, from Home Affairs signed only by Lisa (no last name or title); somehow I don’t think Home Affairs is gaming the casualisation of identity (irony intended) so it’s just one more roadblock to clarifying whom one is engaging.  The 17 page quite cumbersome form letter, with the designated insert for what each applicant must additionally provide, giving my wife and children 28 days to comply with request or be in breach of immigration compliance.  After 621 days in more limbo the 28 days to accrue costly and time consuming mandates is just one more irony no longer lost upon me.  There are a number of requests – each involving significant financial burden to us and weary loads our neighbours would find unspeakable – but we are invisible in Australia – permanent by ancestry, place and time but not by law – so our exploitation is not seen by anyone in the community – one of many reasons I started writing these essays.

The cut and paste request means more anxiety, time from work, travel to Brisbane and expensive medicals that achieve nothing except to line the pockets of Bupa who own the monopoly contract for the Australian medical visas – we clearly pose no existential medical threat to a community within which we exist – though we are often quite threatened by the government charged with leadership of that community.  Frankly, I don’t even know how we’re going to pay for it – satisfying the requests will be – literally – in the thousands of dollars and our son Dylan’s disability already catastrophises our earnings – both their potential and their product. We are not openly or publicly oppressed in Australia; our oppression is transparent and every bit as segregating, exploitative and miserable but its invisible cuts and quite permanent scars are not set in flesh and so so our exploitation is easy to affect and effectively easy to forget – where it was ever known to begin with by those in the community.

We can endure the request for an AFP Police check (though I am quite certain Home Affairs knows everything about us and could affirm our integrity with one simple computer search; Home Affairs being the super ministry within which the AFP exists – but there’s no revenue stream in such action).  It’s the Bupa Medical Visa Services monopoly and that mandate that particularly angers me – the indignity and burden of this arm of the industrialisation of the visa sector into an industry that few understand.

My wife works and pays her taxes and is every bit as dinky-di Aussie as everyone else, except she isn’t.  My children go to the same schools, parks, events and outings as their friends and peers and are every bit as dinky-di Aussie as everyone else, except they aren’t.  They haven’t in fact, even left Australia since 2013, quite unlike many of “everyone else” yet they must be subjected to profoundly costly medicals conducted only by specific Bupa contracted outposts to protect the Australian community from alien threat.  Doesn’t sound so reasonable or fair when you put it simply – does it?

Scott Morrison arguably won the “unwinnable” 18 May 2019 federal election with an eleventh hour cash splash that meant a cash refund would be additionally obtainable in the tax year ending in a scant 90 days at 31 June and marqueed as “up to $1,080” (key words, ‘up to’) and sold under the supporting signalled rhetoric – “It’s YOUR money and we want you to have more of it” (one can be forgiven for wondering why “OUR” money wasn’t being “given back” much sooner and why this massive spend was not mentioned in the lead up to the 2019/2020 budget announced the day Parliament broke in the budget announced at 2 April, a single day before Parliament ceased sitting in the run up to the election.  The tax cash splash miraculously appear in the final hours when the polls started looking positively ghoulish, but I digress).

It also merits mention that to get that maximum $1,080 you had to have a taxable income of $84,000 – an income threshold crossed by a markedly small cadre of workers in the Commonwealth than you may have thought; the average wage being $62,000 a year meant most were getting 30% less the the value pegged at $84,000 and a cohort of casual, gig and other catchy terms to define the vulnerable workers making up over 30% of the workforce would see far, far less.  The $158 billion dollar spend against budget would be mercilessly culled from other sectors and benefits in an ongoing transformation of the Australian society that is becoming increasingly austere and downright authoritarian.

The “tax cut” – made so late it was not legislated until AFTER the election and the fiscal year itself – was smart, devisive, cynical and certainly played into the final two-party-preferred vote (TPP) numbers which saw LNP hold Government 51.53% to ALP’s 48.47%.  A swing of 1.17% to cling to government with their one seat majority of 76 increased by one to 77 in the lower house.  A cash splash and suspicion “the others” might give too much to your neighbour a dubious but highly effective marketing strategy. If that Australia only aspired to be another simple advertising product proposition all would be a simple equation. We can however, be so much more and we should be so much more – a point not lost upon 48.47% of the electorate- and likely far more – who defaulted to their suspicion setting in the privacy of the polling booth and quietly comported Scott Morrison back to the Lodge.

No one can definitively know what would’ve happened had the election twilight cash splash not been orchestrated but I mention it because I do strongly suspect the public would not tolerate that money being taken back from each of them, by a factor of two, as is happening to us right now,  by a system so unfair and unreasonable – under consequences like those we endure, where such outcomes were experienced across the Australian community.  I think we all know what would happen and Government would be found to be in quite terminal favour with the electorate but exploiting a minority cohort within that same  community is a simple proposition for this Government.  We endure these kind of costing indignities, compounded by my wife and children’s exclusion from the basic dignity of Medicare throughout the year, whilst we are are similarly denied virtually every other entitlement and have no voice at the ballot box within the only nation we call home. It’s easy to exploit a cohort of the Australian community who are vulnerable and have limited or no voice.

The industrialisation of the visa system leaves great swaths of the Australian community in permanent limb0 – well over 1 million souls who permanently live in Australia but are permanently left voiceless – without even a right to vote; an outcome directly traceable to actions under the LNP beginning with John Howard’s very first and second ministries.  We had already endured all the costly and time consuming vetting of our family when we settled in Australia.  When our son Dylan was diagnosed with autism, in Australia, long after any alternate foreign harbour could – or even should – have been countenanced we watched our life spiral into a predicament of proportion unfathomable to most people.  We did not implode, though we are surely breaking; we stood strong, loved each other and worked ourselves to within an inch of our lives – as we continue to do seven days a week all these years later.  This is all for not and we have no right to have hope but we keep going.  Our son’s disability is a known fact to the Australian Government – its the core of our exclusion for a permanent residency visa – even where my wife and I have no shared nation of citizenship to even decamp towards were we to give up (not to mention magically affect capital considerations in an international move whilst leave our extended Australian family and the only home our children have ever known).  So we exist, in perpetuity, in limbo – set to be buffeted by waves of limbo, throwing all our earnings into the Australian economy as we stimulate that organ of state as the very state itself imposes these visas of lustrum upon my wife and children and the maddening medical visas that accompany them -upon a family who are quite decidedly not alien to Australia and who pose zero existential medical concern to the community.

My wife and children must be subjected to their five year “re-branding” as “guest workers” and “guest children” and we must affect compliance through Bupa – no other remedy is allowable – my wife can not provide a chest x-ray from a recognised laboratory, which she only recently acquired for a medical consideration recently.  No, she must pay Bupa Medical Visa Services $310.00, exclusive all other costs, and exclusive the medical examination, itself, for the very same x-ray.  This is not about “keeping Australians safe”, this is about creating a revenue stream made tsunami and created from the industrialisation of the visa travel document in service to the federal treasury – it’s a policy aberration that should anger any fair dinkum Australian because real people with no voice and no protest are being ruinously exploited.

It warrants brief corollary comment that this is the same Bupa that scarcely one month ago, September 11th to be precise, was revealed by the ABC, in a review of accreditation reports analysed by the ABC, to have had more than half of all Bupa run nursing homes in Australia failing basic standards of care and 30% of that cohort putting the health and safety of their elderly charges at “serious risk” – not inadequate or questionable – serious risk.  Any other provider in such breach would be shut down – but Bupa is simply seen as “too big to fail” where the corporate entity services some 6,000 souls across 72 locations (a real crisis where transferring the charges to other sites is simply not possible for government).   Bupa has what cynical personalities would benignly call a heap of branding problems; having successfully reoriented the public over the years one should recall that Bupa is actually an acronym for British United Provident Association (rather problematic a moniker in 21st century Australia) that has not stopped Bupa from serving 32 million people across 190 nations.   Health insurance was once driver one but diversification now sees aged care the larger cash cow in Bupa’s sites.  Pity more equity wasn’t given to actual human lives but again, the conflict where lives are monetised haunts our species, perhaps now more than ever.

Exploitation of a vulnerable class of people should deeply concern all stakeholders and political leaders – but where such exploitation overtly or covertly is let to clearly form part of the income generating business modality we should be especially concerned – I am not implying this was an overt part of Bupa’s business plan but the Bupa debacle highlights that practice of prioritising profits over people and even those same people’s exploitation and abuse, as is my indictment of any system that keeps human beings working without future certainties for years on endmost decidedly, at the very least, a long tolerated case in the industrialisation of the once pedestrian travel document that is the visa. Where political leaders abdicate action in the face of cost we are left with some very sober questions about what we value in this nation – whether that affected class of people are they confronting the later years of life seeking dignity or they in the middle of life seeking to know that where they exist is indeed home.

The medical we shall invariably endure will reveal nothing new – certainly nothing to keep us from infecting the Australian community within which we already live, have lived and shall continue to live – the same Australia we form community year after year and within which we pose no existential medical threat to community – although the Australian government gives us more than a few shivers and some hives.

There is a vulgarity to what is asked of us but hey, the Bupa medical visa private-public partnership betwixt the Australian federal government and Bupa is worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually – and who cares about a cohort within Australia who have no vote, no voice and no political equity.  No question. Full stop.

Our modest tax rebate that formed a key component to Scott Morrison’s return to the lodge; a return we gratefully needed – perhaps more than most where the basic dignity of medicare is not even available to my wife and children – gone in a flash and now (by costing comparison) compounded to a place of exponentially negative territory by our latest indignity to affect medical inspection as aliens in service to a “secure borders” and “protecting Australians” – a narrative that sells so well – as the last election proves incontrovertibly; the $50,000,000 Palmer spend notwithstanding – but whose counting those blasted details – simple is good, right?  The new virtue is brevity? There is, it should also be noted,  in every rationale, historical and fair analysis – nothing alien about my wife and children within Australia and I only wish the tacit agreement of inaction in the face of the obscenity being set upon us could be recognised by someone – anyone – with dignity within Government.

The costings are determined by dispassionate analytics in computational silence and echo a kind of indifferent selection processing that cares nothing about human lives, even as such medicals are trumpeted as all about protecting Australian human lives.  We are a data list forming revenue stream, at best, in some pile in some bored bureaucrat’s assistant’s designated pile within said assistant’s hot desked work area.  We don’t rate incrimination much less consideration – we don’t exist as anything but a few revenue digits.  Words are insufficient to summarise the verdict of my children’s great, great, great, great, great, great Grandmother, born in Victoria, upon the fate of her descendants by the current governance of the continent our family so honourably helped make better and yes, more inclusive.

I wonder how many decades must my wife and children shall exist upon the continent their forebearers have occupied for centuries; made to run endlessly just to be castigated as visitors, denied even the basic essential services and subjected to the indignity, marginalisation and cost of pointless medicals that protect no one from them within a community they have so long intrinsically formed? This is not a question of public health and safety but about keeping a cohort of people who call Australia their permanent home permanently disadvantaged and segregated because it funds treasury.

The cost of a medical examination for a family of four is well over $1,000 and closer to $2,000; compulsorily affected at Bupa locations (and designated partners) specifically created to service this arm of the visa as an industrialised product within Australia.  The exchange produces a quite attractive revenue stream to both government and Bupa in this private-public dance upon the most vulnerable – and we’re talking hundred of millions of dollars.  A kind of beautiful capitalised health abattoir… if your on the consuming side and not the consumed.

Scott Anderson

Sippy Downs, Queensland

21 September 2019




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