Posted by SCA on  November 11, 2019 |

Today is 11/11.  A day of remembrance.  As my 8 year-old daughter, Maya, affixed a poppy to her school uniform in homage to her great grandfather and all who served, I experienced a combination of deep pride on one hand and not a little contempt on the other, even outrage, at the current Australian government who treat her as a throw away person – collateral damage in service to the appetites of an immigration program that has too long lost its moral authority and any sense of rectitude, fairness or honour.  I watched a child this morning speak of what the day meant in the Australian nation she has called home since she was a one – yes – one year old child.  A child thrown away in a war we did not seek and do not want, waged upon us by a Government who have lost their moral compass and their very liberal direction to a place we all collectively call home: Australia.

Maya has but one brother and his name Dylan.  Long after our family reunited with our overwhelmingly Australian citizen family under clear intention to remain in Australia for life, Dylan was diagnosed with autism.  His disability was enough to challenge any family but it has been weaponised, like a virus by Government, and used to deny us legal permanent residency inclusion in the only home we genuine know and have.  Worse still the presentment of Dylan’s disability will see Maya, in country from age 1 ultimately deported around the age of majority, despite knowing no other country but Australia as her only and continuous home because her brother is disabled.  This is the modern Government’s legislative makeup applied to the face of a nation that Maya’s ancestors have been present for centuries – longer even than the federation itself, whose Government now seeks to segregate both children in ways few criminals shall ever even know – ultimate exile.  Let us call it what it is and not parse words.  There has been too much parsing of language from this Government already.

When a human being (otherwise cloaked under the language of migrant) is standing at the Australian nation’s door – worse still, long after they’ve entered, genuinely settled and otherwise made the nation home, I am compelled to ask a most prescient question: Is being left behind at the door of Australian inclusion really a matter of how much you can pay or otherwise be worth?  Do we as a nation now tolerate this selection line and grant freedom in Australia to those who can prove an outcome of best case ‘financial arrangement’ where it benefits the Australian Government (at least the immediate short-term of this years budget) under a selection process that let’s you live as a free and equal citizen in Australia – if you can provide sufficient value to the state – or conversely where the selector deems you wanting, sees you dispatched to the unknown?

It’s a confronting question – and it should be because its now a policy mechanism that serves the modern Australian immigration program for one reason and one reason only: to maximise profits to Government – a policy program that should be found as repellant and repugnant as it is sounds.  Where the exclusion is based upon a disabled child the immigration systems very moral authority should be rightfully questioned – where the child is a centuries deep and verifiable descendant of this nation it is an outcome that no messaging, rhetoric, distraction, obfuscation, or government lawyers can sufficiently dilute for pure vulgarity and prejudice.

This kind of  socially engineered capital exclusion based on the value of a disabled person is a dark fact borne out by evidence – exposed as even more confronting where a family, like ours, has given to the nation for centuries.  Yet, in our hour of need we are left betrayed – dismissed by the indifferent immigration analytics engineered by Home Affairs digital immigration gatekeepers who have no need for our crippled child; whose monetised worth is found repellant under the expanded definition of a “medical threat”.  The diagnosis of our son’s disability has moved me to shine a bright light into the increasing dark recesses of Australia’s dubious immigration program.  The Government’s superficial narrative around ‘inclusion’, notwithstanding, that well-rehearsed slogan simply falls and otherwise fails to standup to scrutiny.

That our own permanent residency application can’t even get passed the digitised gatekeepers of the Home Affairs online-only-submission process a stunning example of legal due process denied; wherein that coveted Ministerial Discretion cannot even be affected or petitioned because the application itself can’t find existential submission, departmental review, rejection and referral to the Australian Administrative Affairs Tribunal as a precondition to a request for that most coveted ministerial discretion.  As I’ve intoned before, in the word’s of Joseph Heller’s Yossarian, “That’s some catch, that catch-22.”

Is this the kind of nation we’ve become?  In which a family’s value and broader merit cannot even find genuine and actual consideration – not vagaries of policy permutations but actual and genuine consideration before a minister whose probability of tendering his prerogative, to say nothing of even being aware of the issue has all the probability of a lottery win.

There is of course nothing unusual or new about a “Health Requirement” in Australia – only the moral integrity of such a health requirement used to be married to the legal integrity of the requirement – they’re now quite divorced and decidedly acrimonious.  There was once nothing unusual about a health requirement, in fact one has been a component for Commonwealth entry since federation – longer even than the visa program itself, which was created in the Migration Act 1958, an Act that repealed the Immigration Restriction Act 1901 and its attendant White Australia policy.  At the inception of federation a health requirement sought to protect the community from infectious disease.  It only began to be affected by profound tinkering nine decades later.

The Migration Regulations 1994, like the preceding immigration acts, imposed exclusions and restrictions upon communicable diseases, though it removed a listing of specific diseases, with exception to maintaining a specific and unambiguous reference to tuberculosis.  The seismic shift in the Migration Regulations 1994 occurred with the Acts introduction of a bit of legal sophistry in the attendant “Public Interest Criteria” (PIC) in which the vagaries of expenditure upon a non-communicable disease were introduced to law and quietly affected as much authority as a medical existential threat imposed by any communicable disease.  In other words, ‘your crippled child was as much a “medical” threat under the new 1994 Regulations as malaria, tuberculosis, measles, or smallpox, to name a few.

The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 had surely played some ironic role in the need to further parse and otherwise define who was an Australian and thus entitled to protections under law – the government fearful of being held to account for discriminating against people arguably in country and otherwise genuinely home.  By the time John Howard became prime minister in 1996 the dye was cast and an sense of fair play has been long trampled over in Australia where a disabled family member makes up part of a permanent residency application and notions of temporary and permanent were so radially recast under policy law machinations as to be scarcely associated with their literal definitions.

My own family had been present upon the continent for centuries, long before federation and not less than the matriarch of our own family – my own mother – had already returned Down Under and permanently settled in Australia before the Migration Regulations 1994 were implemented.  Setting aside the moral probity of the system, writ large, the exclusionary principles of the regulations exorcised upon my mother’s own family members (including her own son and grandson, my son) is stunning in consequence, especially where such categorisations were only made actionable against the New Zealand diaspora with further exclusionary amendments affected by John Howard who came to office in 1996 and created a divisive separation between pre-2001 New Zealand citizens deemed “Protected” and those arriving post 28 February 2001 who were deemed “un-Protected”.  My own children, borne in the Philippines but knowing no other nation as home, continuously, but Australia from ages 1 and 2, respectively, now are victims of amendments that affect a legitimate form of lawful prejudice.  An outcome whose utter lack of moral probity is set on stunning display where my son expected reasonable migration to the nation of his ancestral Australia but has been found disabled, after settlement, and permanently denied a mechanism by which to protect his permanent place within country, especially where return to the nation in which he was borne is neither fair or reasonable, especially where I am not a Philippine citizen and the child’s future in that nation after a lifetime in Australia would be nothing less than catastrophic – even terminal.

The monetising of a single generation (the generation entering or otherwise seeking permanent residency visas) as a medical threat is already contentious because it lacks any scientific surety against medical costings and outcomes for any generation to follow from any migrant to country – its very legal authority exist but its moral authority is not only absent but decidedly bankrupt .  The random valuation of a single applicant portends little in terms of equity of equality or future burdens or blessings of, for or to future generations – a thin wedge of exclusion upon which an entire family is now cut and otherwise cast away.  In our case there is not even a rational and reasonable place of alternate egress.  Where our family are actually centuries descendant from the Australian continent such vagaries of law are held up for the tissue thin but perfectly fouled exclusionary affect they tender.

Under John Howard the student visa was significantly weaponised for service to treasury, the worker visa was significantly weaponised for service to treasury and the Anzac’s were both broken and left to be significantly weaponised for service to treasury – all let to stand or be further weaponised or otherwise “enhanced” for maximum benefit to state by successive Governments.  Is this really what we’ve become as a nation?

Where you tick the boxes of the digitised permanent residency applicaiton, and look to tender a short-term benefit to treasury, GDP, and budget you’ll be admitted to Australia permanently, ‘welcome aboard’.  Your ideology, country of origin, and other considerations exploited for benefit by the Government to reflect inclusion really are a secondary consequence of their primary objective: your money. If one portends financial advantage to the Government upon entry, the migrant can board the Australian ship of state – and expect to keep their seat.   A statement as confronting as it is true.

If however, one honours every tenet of good citizenship but is disabled, or found to be disabled, the computational gate keepers of Government (who engineer the analytics and thus determine who may live here and who may be left to work and then sent away) determine that there is no place where it is resolved that a family unit contains a child with a disability.  Where the disabled child forms a family with century deep connection to country, as in our case, the maltreatment and segregation of the disabled and child and his family is that much more surreal and odious.  Such a child and his family are ordered off the boat that is the Australian ship of state and into unknown waters – a moral consequence that is beyond defence or frankly even debate (though I’m happy to have such debate with any member of this Government).

No human – and surely no government – should traffic in people for financial advantage.  Where a disabled child forms part of a vulnerable family – even (and especially) where that child forms a centuries deep descendancy to country – the Australian government affects subtle and perfectly engineered policy law that publicly signals inclusion but affects only exclusion where a disability is viewed as undesirable and excluded from inclusion.  The visa medical waiver “exemptions”, especially as they impact something as profound as a legal permanent residency visas of Australia are advertised by this Government as a means of addressing vulnerable people but lay out in their finite detail very cynical and profound exclusion.

In effect they actually enshrine the medical condition they deign or otherwise signal they claim to wave.  My own Federal MP, Andrew Wallace in meeting with David Coleman, as Immigration Minister, was adamant that a permanent residency visa was the method of reconciling our jeopardy and that a “medical waiver existed.’ On Monday, 10 December 2018, Andrew wrote me and clearly stated,

“I understand you feel that submitting an application for a Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa (New Zealand) stream is futile however the Department of Home Affairs has advised this is the most appropriate way forward, and there are provisions for seeking exemptions to the ‘Income’ and ‘Health’ categories which form part of the visa. Last week I met with the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs who confirmed that he is unable to intervene unless an application has already been refused.”  

Again, it’s ‘hard’ to affect procedural pathway to a hoped for minister’s discretion when the craftily designed analytics of a Home Affairs web portal deny any hope of legal due process where an application is punched out for failing to ‘comply with computational algorithms.’ The most egregious example of ministerial obfuscation can be found at my website created to service this unending nightmare at and that essay entitled, “No Guidance.  Death by Error Message”  in which I was quite seriously told to contact “tech support” of the “Immi account” team.

These are of course, more ‘medical exclusions’ with profoundly narrow entry possibilities and no entry possibility where your child is disabled. They are, in short, rarely certificates of  ‘medical exemptions’.  The subtle shifting of language in law is always something moral integrity mandates vigilance but such nuance of integrity has never been as bleak as its been in this century under LNP engineered policy law doctrine.  One need only read the many highly nuanced policy law introduced in from John Howard to understand why there is now a robust industry (also serving Government’s economic intentions) in which over 5,000 Migration (MARA) members now are paid by hopeful, desperate and often profoundly vulnerable people seeking a better life in the once ‘lucky country” that personified the fair go, so very much gone.  It is also why strong advococay is essential to restoring fairness to Australia’s immigration program – now, more than ever.

We have reached a point where an anecdotal occurrence of a disability is not only accorded no broader humane consideration but is a blanket punitive exclusion in ones pursuit of a permanent residency visa.

This is what happens to families – good families – who make Australia home and deign to do so for life but suddenly find their permanent residency visa terminally fouled by a government who have no value for a disabled child and see such disability as much an existential threat to the community as tuberculosis or malaria.  This is the new face of Australia’s highly leveraged immigration system made servant to the federal treasury’s revenue scheme.  It’s a scheme whose fullest malignancy is a sad fact borne out by evidence exposed as even more confronting where a family, like ours, has given to the Australian nation for centuries.  Yet, in our hour of need we are left betrayed – dismissed by the indifferent analytics of immigration gatekeepers who have no need for our crippled child whose monetised worth is found repellant under the expanded definition of a “medical threat”.

The diagnosis of our son’s disability has moved me to shine a bright light into the increasing dark recesses of Australia’s dubious immigration program.  The Government’s superficial narrative around ‘inclusion’, notwithstanding, that well-rehearsed slogan simply falls and otherwise fails to standup to scrutiny – never more so than where it’s been used to cast out children who are, at least, generationally descendant from this continent by nine generations.

Once upon a time in Australia people who made their true and genuine home in country were granted citizenship.  That significantly changed with John Howard’s prime ministership but that does not mean such vagaries and lack of legal virtue should be tolerated or let to stand.  People who make their true and genuine home in Australia, who exist in country – and who intend to do so for life, should be either permanent under law and land or not within law and land – anything else is an unmistakable abuse and clear exploitation of people.   We are, as a nation, better than a those dubious democracies who engineer “guest worker programs” that are themselves polite euphemisms for often craven exploitation.  We are Australians – all of us – and we should start acting like the country of genuine aspirational growth not stunted generations and hollow rhetoric.

We think of the trafficking of human beings as among the most abhorrent expressions of naked human self interest but when government itself is the architect of such constructs we of this liberal democracy must take serious and sober reflection upon what what virtues genuinely define and drive the evolution of our nation.

  1. wendy | | Reply

    Im just gobsmacked at our policies concerning your family! I have no words of comfort for you, no new ideas of where to go next and absolutely nothing new that you haven’t already exhausted. I am however, ashamed of our country……..


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