Peter Threlfall is a man after my own heart: he wants to migrate to Australia. Okay, in fairness it must be said that he wants to move to South Australia where, I am reliably informed by Mrs Exile, they’re all a bit weird (no idea, I think it might some long standing rivalry over who’s got the best arts festival or something). And also he wants to be a cop, though without actually knowing the guy I wouldn’t hold that against him, and really it’s pretty understandable seeing as he currently goes by Sergeant Threlfall in his job with the Metropolitan Police.
And he’s keen to live and work in Oz. From personal experience I can tell you that you have to be. The process is neither brief nor cheap, not even when your significant other comes with the blue passport with strange animals on. Just for a spouse/fiancé/partner type visa you have to have a medical with blood tests and chest X-rays, police certificate, references from two or three Australian Citizens who aren’t your partner, a shitload evidence to show that the relationship is genuine, and you both have to fill in a huge form which you send off with your pommie passport and all the other stuff to Australia House in The Strand, making sure to include the most important item of all on the very top: a big cheque. And then you wait for a call and if they’re happy with what you tell them over the phone they send your passport back with a visa in it, and you’re finally allowed to come and get sunburned at Christmas.
That’s a potted version, but let me say again that this is for people whose better halves are Aussie citizens. Peter Threlfall was applying through the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, which is about getting foreign nationals to fill jobs in places out in the arse of nowhere that are vacant because the Aussies mostly want to live near the bigger cities. And that means he probably had bigger forms to fill in and more hoops to jump through than I did. It certainly cost him more – about $8,000 or £5,000 – and you also have to have a job offer already. Which Peter Threlfall did, as South Australia Police were going to give him a job as a constable in Ceduna, a small town of a couple of thousand souls a bit west of Adelaide. In fact quite a bit west of Adelaide – it’s nearly as far west as Melbourne is east, and if his missus had fancied nipping into Rundle Mall to do some shopping she’d need to allow for a good 9 hour drive. Each way. Ceduna isn’t exactly one of these pub + petrol station bush towns out in the middle of the GAFA* but it’s still pretty small and fairly isolated. But all the same Peter Threlfall and his family were prepared to live in Ceduna if that was the deal for being able to live and work in Oz, and it probably suited SA Police just as much as it did the Threlfalls.
Except the Immigration Department have just given him the flick.
AN English policeman and his family are devastated after being told they cannot move to South Australia because his stepdaughter, Sarah, is autistic.
Mr Threlfall was preparing to move his wife and family to South Australia, but was told in December they had been denied visas under the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
He had been offered a job as a constable at Ceduna, on the state’s West Coast, and was due to start work as soon as his visa was approved.
Mr Threlfall has spent the past few months trying to reverse the decision but his family is now resigned to staying in the UK.
And it appears that this is because to the Immigration people autism = will cost the state money. Not ‘might’ – ‘will‘.
The refusal to let the Threlfalls into the country was based on the presumption his step-daughter Sarah’s condition would place a burden on healthcare and community services in Australia.
This despite the fact that there’s autism and there’s autism, and you don’t have to be an expert to be aware that not everyone diagnosed with what’s now being called an Autistic Spectrum Disorder mumbles about being a very good driver and freaks out at the suggestion of flying with anyone other than QANTAS. Sure, some people with autism do, but not all. So you’d imagine that maybe they’d look at things on a case by case basis, which I thought was what they were supposed to do with visa applications anyway, and then see that Peter Threlfall’s stepdaughter seems to be on the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum.
Mr Threlfall said Sarah worked part-time as both a cleaner and a store assistant. His family was not seeking any assistance for Sarah…
She’s also a volunteer for the Scouts and Guides and planned to study hairdressing here. So, Immigration people, this girl may meet the medical criteria to be called autistic, but Rain Man she certainly isn’t. Volunteer work and two part time jobs? For Christ’s sake, she’s almost certainly paying taxes and if hairdressers in Ceduna cost anything like what my wife has to pay she’d end up a taxpayer here as well. And if she’s capable of paying taxes what’s the fucking problem? She’d put in like everyone else, and for all we know might even choose to buy health insurance and be even less of a potential – potential, Immigration weenies – drain on SA’s health resources.
But perhaps we can’t blame the Immigration Department (my bold).
An Immigration Department spokesman confirmed Mr Threlfall and his family had applied for visas. His daughter had not met the legislated health requirement, which was partly to restrict public expenditure on healthcare and community services.
In other words Canberra wrote the laws a certain way and too bad for the Threlfalls, though bizarrely they could appeal this if they were already in Australia – why this should be so I can’t imagine, perhaps it’s just easier to say no to someone ten thousand miles away – and getting this kind of thing overruled is not unprecedented.
Two months ago, Filipino doctor Edwin Lapidario avoided deportation only after directors at his Hackham Medical Centre workplace agreed to pay $52,000 towards his autistic son’s medical costs.
In 2008, a migrant doctor working in Victoria was threatened with deportation because his son had Down syndrome.
It took an international outcry and the intervention of then Immigration Minister Chris Evans to overturn the decision to deport German doctor Bernhard Moeller and his family.
Neither of which is any help to Peter Threlfall and his family since Lapidario and Moeller were both already living and working here, nor presumably SAPOL who will have to find someone else to fill the vacancy in the police force at Ceduna. And all because the rules seem to say that whether someone has a certain medical condition is more relevant than whether or not that prevents them from working and paying tax, which itself is only an issue because Australia, like many western nations, has a medical condition of its own: welfarestateitis. It’s very very difficult to cure, but you’d think there’d be some system that migrants could sign a waiver agreeing that they’d have nothing to do with it and would ensure they’d make appropriate arrangements for their own medical care, in return for which they’d be exempt from the Medicare Levy when it came to paying their taxes… ah, but that could mean a lot of people handing over less money to the federal government than they do now, and might even lead to Aussies demanding to be able to opt out of Medicare as well.
No, now I’ve thought it through it makes perfect sense from the government’s point of view. Far easier to label and pigeonhole individuals and be relatively indiscriminate when it comes to giving people who want to live here the flick. That someone might be willing and able to make a contribution isn’t relevant when Australia seems to need migrant families with mildly autistic hairdressers in less than it needs families with sadistic rapist kidnappers in, though to be fair they did send that bastard back where he came from. Which was Britain.
* GAFA, abbreviation: Great Australian Fuck All. Australia’s secret seventh state, encompassing much of the other mainland states, a large part of the Northern Territory, and indeed most of the continent. Despite the vast areas of sunburned scrub, desert void and eerily silent forest almost all of the GAFA is more interesting to look at than anything in Canberra.