Australian immigration policy leaves Pacific people on a limb

Australian migration

More than 100,000 people are in limbo overseas due to an Australian migration policy appearing to lack compassion.

Many are awaiting visas to join their partners who are in Australia.

Due to the pandemic, Australia closed its borders to almost everyone except Australian citizens, permanent residents, resident New Zealand citizens or immediate family members.

The Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison added another level of difficulty this month, announcing an English language requirement for partner visa applications.

Abul Rizvi, a former deputy secretary of the Department of Immigration, said: “Not since the White Australia policy has an Australian Government acted to interfere in the decisions of Australians about who they chose to marry.”

Brian Brunton, a former Papua New Guinea judge, and an Australian citizen before PNG gained independence in 1975 goes even further.

He said Australia’s migration system is badly managed and racist.

His son, Richard, is currently estranged from his partner because of Australia’s migration policy. He is one of the thousands who have had a series of visa denials.

Richard grew up in Australia as the child of two Australians and he is engaged to an Australian.

He has been experiencing great difficulties in returning from his country of birth, PNG, to live with her in Australia. This is despite never forfeiting his Australian citizenship.

“All his life he’s been in and out of Australia for family and business, but now basically he is banned,” the former judge explained.

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said it couldn’t comment on individual cases due to privacy legislation. But asserted that “people born in Papua prior to independence acquired Australian citizenship at birth”.

However, he said, “Papuan-born Australian citizens did not have an automatic right of permanent residence in any of the Australian States or Internal Territories”.

The spokesperson said in some cases a person may be unaware they ceased to be an Australian citizen.


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