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Liana Allan suggests that Migration Alliance and the MIA join forces

Following the Migration Institute of Australia’s (MIA) EGM ‘wipe out’ on Friday afternoon, 8 September at 4pm in Sydney, the National President of the MIA suddenly resigned on Sunday 10 September.

Some of you may recall that I resigned from the Migration Alliance Committee a few months back without providing an explanation.    I would now like to provide that explanation, put forward a few of my insights and ideas, and then offer a proposal for the way forward.

My resignation from the MA committee

I resigned from the Migration Alliance committee for two reasons. 

The first reason was that I was being intimidated by Mary-Jane Jones, the then State Director of the ACT/NSW of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for my association with Migration Alliance, and that by association with Migration Alliance, the DIBP would not engage with me. 

Ms Jones also made it quite clear to me on a telephone call that the DIBP would not send in speakers to Legal Training Australia (LTA) CPD events whilst I had an association with Migration Alliance.  Ms Jones was disparaging of Migration Alliance, in particular that Migration Alliance would publish offensive and negative commentary on its blog. 

Ms Jones said that she would not send DIBP staff to LTA events whilst it still had association with Migration Alliance, as she feared for her staff’s safety. I did try to explain to her that MIA members are also Migration Alliance members and that there is a large overlap of dual members. I therefore questioned her reasoning behind the DIBP's attendance at MIA's events.

I also found it odd that a Senator for NSW could attend our events, and also the Head of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), but not staff of the DIBP. Not once in the history of Migration Alliance has there been a safety issue at any of our CPD events or conference.

I think that the explanation given by Ms Jones does not stack up.

Nevertheless, in order to get access to DIBP speakers for CPD purposes, I agreed on the phone, and subsequently in writing that I would resign from the Committee. One word springs to mind. Duress. Documents gathered under FOI from the DIBP tell a more sinister story, akin to boycott of Migration Alliance, files on me and other Committee members of MA, and directions through to DIBP management from the top down, not to deal with Migration Alliance. Why? Probably because we are not lap dogs to the DIBP.

I also questioned why the DIBP wasn't running free information roadshows for the migration advice profession, rather than forcing agents to pay the MIA to access government information.

The second reason I resigned from Migration Alliance’s committee was because I made an application for the recently advertised position of CEO at the MIA. I did not want there to be a conflict of interest when I applied, by being on the Board of a competing membership association in the same profession.

I applied. I was invited to an interview by the MIA’s professional recruiter. I attended an interview, which lasted approximately an hour. In the interview I made it abundantly clear that my reason for applying was to fuse the two associations (MIA and MA) to create one peak professional association. I explained about the history of bad blood between the two organisations and my experience at successfully running LTA. I explained that I had founded and have been running MA. In my opinion, I am more than skilled and qualified for the position, and would need to take a pay cut to achieve my objective; become the position of CEO and merge the MIA and MA. The recruiter said he would call Angela Julian Armitage that afternoon to let her know that he had interviewed me and then let me know whether the board would consider me for the position. He rang. Angela said no. He called me. End of story. It went nowhere. I was shut out.

MIA's EGM last week

Angela Julian-Armitage motioned to me to come to over to her outside the meeting room of the MIA's EGM on Friday afternoon at around 3:50pm.

She said, 'why are you doing this to me?'.

I said, 'the profession needs help'.

She responded with, 'I am having an Aston Martin delivered tomorrow. Do you really think I need this sh*t?'.

I said, "Angela you really could have accepted my application for the position of CEO".

Angela responded, "You didn't even apply properly'.

I was so stunned I did not reply but walked off.

I went into the EGM meeting room but was ejected from the room as I was not a MIA member. I was also not allowed to be an observer.

Insights and Ideas

My hope is that the profession can join together as one.

My plan is to galvanise the joint members of the MIA and the MA and initiate an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) in the coming weeks. Proxies will be sought for the required 100 member votes.

The aim of the EGM will be to dispense of the current board of the MIA through a ‘vote of no confidence’ motion. Other motions will also be put to the membership, such as allowing me to join the MIA as a member. Whilst he was the Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Lane wrote to me advising me that my application to join the MIA had been refused, but with no explanation.

What has become clear is that Migration Alliance and our proxies were the primary reason that all four of the MIA’s recent motions were defeated. Other MIA members carried their own proxies in line with ours, voting down the motions.

The way forward for the migration advice profession

Given it is now clear that Migration Alliance is in the hearts and minds of the voting members of the MIA, may I suggest that NOW is a good time for the two organisations to join forces, one way or another? The current Migration Alliance committee fully support my proposal of fusing the MIA and the MA.

I would appreciate comments and feedback.

In Good Faith

Liana Allan

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  • Guest
    MIA member at the EGM Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    John Hourigan was called 'fat' and a 'Holden driver' in the MIA's EGM by Angela Julian Armitage. That's the person who has been President of the MIA. Shocking.

  • Guest
    Nicholas Houston Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    I agree there needs to be a new election and a new board elected. That board needs to establish a new direction by engaging a professional lobbyist and running integrated PR and social media campaigns directed at highlighting the abysmal management of the visa program by the Government and the effect it has on our clients. It is just about impossible to run a stable business in an environment of chaotic and continual legislative change and the hostile attitude of the Department and Government to migration agents, and through us, to our clients. Lack of effective representation is one of the determinants of whether I stay in the industry after 14 years or leave.

    As an industry we have access through our databases to hundreds of thousands of concerned people and we need to activate our client base at election time the same as other professional lobby’s to put pressure on the government. This work needs to be respectful but pull no punches. The MIA and the MA need to coordinate this work, and if there is a merger proposal I would support it so that we end up with one representative, focused, and properly resourced industry body.

  • Guest
    RMA QLD Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    Brilliant and informative. Thank you.

  • Guest
    Frank Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    May I suggest that MA and MIA resolve political issues separately between yourselves and not to launch personal attacks on this forum? Yes it is MA' forum but I don't think many of us join MA just to watch these political dramas.

    I thank contributors like Michael Arch and Ruslan-Ahmadzai etc. who spent a lot of time providing case updates and sharing their knowledge about our industry and business, which makes MA membership worthwhile. However I have to say I am very disappointed about recent development of politics. I feel sick about disclosing content of personal conversation and use it to attack the speaker. Those conversations are supposed to between yourselves and we as the audience have no knowledge of their background and context.

    I think our industry need more integrity and solidarity.

    Reply Cancel
  • Guest
    Advancing the interests of hard working members of the migration industry Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    Frank, right on the mark! Thank you.
    The day the MA becomes widely seen as "politicized" will be the day it descends the way of the MIA. People are sick to their eyeballs with politicians. Is there anybody who cannot see that? The last thing MA members want is "politicians" and "wanna-be politicians" directly or indirectly using the MA. They want efficient and effective administrators of integrity who can demonstrate by their deeds that they have first of all the interests of the MA members at heart. Nothing less.

  • Colin Soo
    Colin Soo Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    What's your vision of a combined association?

    You pointed out that DIBP refused to attend MA events because MA refused to be a lap dog. How do you see the relationship between a combined association and DIBP? There needs to be a balance between maintaining the relationship with DIBP but at the same time advocating for RMA's and their clients.

  • Guest
    Adwin Town Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    support your proposal of fusing the MIA and the MA. Lower the heavy membership annual fee and run as a NGO which can benefit members and represent members as a whole.

  • Guest
    xin ming song Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    I agree

  • Guest
    Thay Horn Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    Liana, it's good to hear this! I'm with you 100%!

  • Guest
    10+ years RMA Perth Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    MIA has always been a puppet of DIBP, We need representation for agents not some kind of "look at me, look at me, look how important I am, group" that constantly sucks up to DIBP. Its the reason I gave up MIA membership years ago, I honestly see no benefit to me as an agent of their existence.

  • Guest
    Jack Prakash Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    Fusion of both associations is the best way forward.

  • Guest
    Maria Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    The reason why I left MIA is that they served me no purpose. They are arrogant, snobbish but happy to get my $350 or so every year. I could not forget that at one time I was seated beside Mr Kevin Lane in one conference in Canberra, I said " HI ' which was met by a snobbish look with his eyes rolling at the ceiling and his nose well pointed towards same place.

  • Guest
    RMA Melbourne Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    I would support your suggestion as long as by the unification we can regain our voice in DIBP. Well more than 5 years in this profession, feeling sorry for myself & clients - got used to be intimidated by case officers implying refusals and asking unreasonable documents under abused & disguised discretion power.

    Never felt that MIA truly represents us in DIBP but I am still a MIA member for just discounted CPD sessions nowadays. maybe not next year through.

    Hope we can find a way improving this situation.

    I hate politics but what is happening is what is happening...

  • Guest
    Chris Oldham Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    Thank you for your efforts Liana. I have eschewed my membership to the MIA for many years due to the attitudes of its executive that you have highlighted above. It is effectively a peak body led by individuals that have no interest in representing the needs of its members, as evidenced by the comment: "I am having an Aston Martin delivered tomorrow. Do you really think I need this sh*t?".

    I look forward to a fused MA/MIA that is led by people who genuinely want to grow the profession and the relationship with DIBP so we can all focus on what we are good at.

  • Guest
    MAgent Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    I can not see the two becoming one,

    i was very disappointed at the action of MA i opposing all the motions at the MIA EGN. The MA seams to be more interested at undermining the profession, point scoring and seeking personal revenge.

    Whilst I think that MA has a role to play and provides useful assistance at minimal costs to Migration Agents it needs to be constructive not counter productive. It is not the opposition. (Although I do think the departments should be more open and accepting of valid criticism).

    In the end this feud of sorts is undermining the development of the profession as a whole

    Sorry love you but... Please think twice before engaging in battle

  • Guest
    Northern agent Wednesday, 13 September 2017

    I can't see it either. I've found posts by MA of recent months seem very adversarial, both towards the MIA generally, but also towards members of the executive personally, and MA are going hammer and tong to discredit the work that the MIA are doing. MIA, on the other hand, have been focused on working towards solutions for us all as an industry. Surely we have enough stress in our lives to be playing the he said/she said. I'm just one person to MA, but this sort of stuff really bugs me and is making me rethink my MA membership.

  • Guest
    Carolnie Wednesday, 13 September 2017

    Totally agree Northern Agent.

  • Guest
    Richard Davies Wednesday, 13 September 2017

    Totally Agree.
    MA needs to focus on putting its own house in order. With 7,000+ RMA's and Migration Lawyers in the profession, there is room (and a need) for two representative bodies, and no advantage in them joining up at all. Each organisation needs to work on behalf of its respective members to the best of the ability of its leadership. A little friendly competition as to which does the better job and more for its own membership is healthy - and members benefit from competition. However, being adversarial is counter productive. Being personal and vindictive is destructive, and the greater quantum of "muck" sticks to the person hurling the insults.
    The ideal outcome for the profession is for each body to do its own thing, and compete, so membership can choose if they want to join either, neither, or both.

  • Guest
    Jay Hosur Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    We really appreciate your broad minded thinking in bringing two organization together . ( MIA and MA) But ego of others killed it. We really proud of your positive thinking for other migration agents and also for our industry.

  • Guest
    Sunil Dang Tuesday, 12 September 2017

    Hi Liana, thanks for sharing the reasons behind your resignation from MA. My opinion is that merging of MA and MIA would result in a world of good for the profession as we will finally have a team that would engage with DIBP objectively. One positive, firm voice and stand on behalf of the industry, free from petty politics is the only way forward.

    Congratulate you, Chris and other members of MA team for achieving a wonderful outcome in MIA's EGM.

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