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Australian Immigration Daily News

Breaking daily news brought to you by Liana Allan, Secretary of Migration Alliance. Liana scans government websites and the news every morning plus incorporates updates from the Department of Immigration and combines all of this information into daily news for migrants, migration agents and stakeholders in the Australian Immigration Industry.

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Posted by on in General

UPDATE TO THIS POST 09/04/2014:  As a result of the negative feedback from many agents via this blog and other modes of communication a survey has been created on RMA satisfaction with DIBP service levels.

I have just received this email from a concerned registered migration agent:

"Hi Liana,

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Posted by on in General

Make a submission today to stop over-regulation of the migration agent profession:

http://www.cuttingredtape.gov.au/form/make-submission

Registered Migration Agents (RMAs) can take advantage of the Australian Government's plan to cut $1 billion in red tape every year.  The first repeal day will be in the House of Representatives on Wednesday 26 March.  That is coming up very shortly.  Please urgently make submissions to assist deregulate our profession, in particular the Office of the MARA (OMARA) and their shocking and ever increasing levels of red tape.  The Office of the MARA have become nothing short of the 'RMA police'. 

Have a look at the hefty obligations and huge fees ($1595) RMAs pay every year to re-register.  I think the Office of the MARA call it a 'charge' so they can get away with not providing us with a service.  If they really wanted to provide the public with value then they would be advocating the use of migration agents to the vulnerable public and asking the DIBP to get rid of unregistered practice.  Instead they spent $0.00 last financial year advertising the services of RMAs.    Instead the Office of the MARA spend their time in their micro-bubble regulating the life out of RMAs.  OMARA also spend huge amounts of money on their relatively new prestigious offices overlooking Hyde Park in Sydney.  Surely OMARA could rent space in accommodation more befitting of the public service and not a high-end law firm?

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Chinese and Australian tourism industry leaders are complaining that DIBPs got it so wrong with its antiquated tourist visa system that it is threatening to damage Australia’s tourism industry which is valued at some $4 billion.

Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) is set to do battle with DIBP to get it to allow for a more streamlined visa processing system for tourists, according to a report from the Travel Weekly.

Returning from Australia Week in China, ATEC Chairman, John King OAM, told the Travel Weekly that Chinese representatives have expressed concerns about the efficacy of Australia’s visa system for visitors coming from China and that leading figures in China's travel industry have lodged complaints over the "demeaning" nature of Australia's visa application process.

Tourism Australia is reportedly investing heavily in advertising and promotions in order to draw more tourists from China to Australia. But King says that DIBPs approach is turning potential tourists away from the country and thus urgent change is needed. 

"In order to achieve the full potential the Chinese visitor market offers, we need to ensure access for Free Independent Travellers is maximised and this requires an easily accessed and quickly processed visa system," King told the Travel Weekly.

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A Sydney-based migration agent has failed in her bid to have a decision to cancel her registration overturned, with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) confirming the decision by the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA). 

A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the cancellation of registration of Ms Weiming Qian followed a number of complaints about applications for protection visas.

The Authority found that Ms Qian had failed to competently and diligently assist her clients and act on their instructions, manufactured or encouraged the manufacture of claims for protection visas, failed to attend with her clients at the Refugee Review Tribunal and the former Federal Magistrates Court for appointed hearings and prepared applications for judicial review when not qualified.

“A migration agent has a duty to act in the lawful interests of a client and this agent’s conduct was clearly not in her clients’ interests,” the spokesman said.

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Migration Alliance’s Liana Allan recently had a ‘Thank you’ card returned with a letter from the APS officer suggesting that the card is somehow a breach of the APS Code of Conduct and as such the card had to be returned as the officer needed ‘not to be seen to be biased or impartial’.

Click here for a copy of the returned thank you card plus the letter from DIBP

The officer from the FOI and Privacy Section stated in the letter enclosing Liana Allan's 'Thank you" card that, “I am bound by the APS Code of Conduct which requires that as an APS employee I must at all times behave in a way that upholds the APS Values and APS Employment Principles.”

The APS Code of Conduct, The Public Service Regulations (1999) and the APS Employment Policy and Advice Guide do deal with the issue of gifts and benefits (There is no mention of cards). However, the APS guidelines recognise that issues in these areas are “not always straightforward” and in effect allows some discretion.

Such discretion fortunately has been exercised with some common sense business etiquette in mind in several other instances. Liana Allan points out, “Over the past 12 months I have sent around 10 of these thank you cards to various sections of the DIBP.  The other cards have not been returned in this way. This is absolutely ridiculous.”

And actually quite insulting, let alone the waste of time and cost by the officer involved in drafting that letter and returning the card by registered post with the suggestion that Liana write to the Global Feedback Unit with her compliments, which now of course has to be a complaint.

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