Australia’s Era Of Stalinism Begins

Most people haven’t noticed the new visa conditions that are going to begin on the 16th November 2019 for the upcoming 491 and 494 Designated Areas visas because no one has received one yet. Today we are going to focus on what we in the office have dubbed, the “Stalin Conditions”. A harsh term you may think, but read on and then decide.

Condition 8581

The first and the worst is Condition 8581 and according to the legislation details released will read;

“Condition 8581 requires the visa holder, if requested in writing by the Minister, to attend an interview at a place and time or in the manner specified in the request. The interview may be face to face or undertaken using modern video conferencing applications such as Skype or Facetime.”

Most of you who have read our past articles about cancellation powers will know that if you breach a condition of your visa it maybe cancelled and most likely will be.

Condition 8581 is a power any enforcement agency would beg to be bestowed upon them. To be able demand an individual attend a certain time and place with little or no warning and in the manner of their choosing, is a law enforcement officers dream power. Soon, DOHA officers are going to have exactly that. They will be able to send a 494 or 491 visa holder an email (based upon the one you placed in your application) and you will have deemed to have received that email on the same day. In that email they can demand you attend an interview at any place and time they desire.

For example the interview may be scheduled the day after the email has been sent. The interview does not have to be offered as an electronic version, they may demand to see you in person. They may demand it take place on the steps of your work place, or if the officer wants a casual day, may demand it takes place in Starbucks, any Starbucks.

Now we are being extreme here for a reason, to highlight how perverse this condition can actually be. It is the beginning of Stalinism, make no mistake about it. If you fail to comply with the request you will have breached your condition and you will be at risk of having your visa cancelled. DOHA is already becoming know for becoming an all too powerful unaccountable organization and they will use this power in its most perverse way when it suits them to do so.

You will notice the condition does not have a 28 day grace like Condition 8580.

Condition 8580

“Condition 8580 requires that, if requested in writing by the Minister to do so, the visa holder must within 28 days provide any or all of the following: the visa holder’s residential address, the address of their employer or employers; the address of the location of each position in which the holder is employed; the address of any educational institution attended by the visa holder.

Well you can only hope your’e not on holiday and miss this email when it comes into your inbox. Failure to comply with this request will also result in possible visa cancellation.

Whilst not as bad as 8581 it is still a demand and there is considerable personal detail expected to be given in the response. Remember these are not really requests. We see a request is something somebody asks you to do politely but in the end you can turn the request down. Just like when you ask someone you like for a date, the other party may simply decline.

No when you get a letter from DOHA making a request, it is really a demand. It is also a demand that has teeth that in failure to meet that demand your visa can be cancelled. Your’e not going to get a letter, “Hi how are you going? Just checking in on you and see how you are enjoying Australia and do you mind just filling in a few details for us?”

No it will be, “You have 28 days to provide us the details on all everything listed below. As a condition of your visa if you do not provide this information within 28 days we may take proactive steps to cancel your visa.”

Get the picture.

When I was in the police force in a far away place a long, long time ago, I always tried to smile when I was walking the beat in the city. Many people would comment, “oh there’s a smiling policeman, you don’t see that everyday!” They wouldn’t say it to me, just loud enough to their friends to make sure I heard it. It was a nice feeling, to know you actually hold more power under the law than most citizens but you actually make yourself approachable by smiling.

In the old days Immigration officers used to smile and have a chat at the counter. Those days are long gone. The new DOHA is a scary beast of an organization and has more power than probably even ASIO and all police forces in Australia combined. You will not know when you may get one of these 8580 or 8581 requests. There is no requirement that they need a reason to send it to you. For all we know they plan to interview every single 491 and 494 visa holder that is granted their visas.

Why then will these visa holders actually be treated like subclass residents of Australia?Why should you have to make yourself available to be interviewed at all? Would Australian Citizens or Permanent residents submit themselves to such demands? Of course they would not.

It should be a basic human right that every resident of this country, citizens, permanents or temporary residents alike, have the right to peaceful enjoyment of their lives free from unjustified government demands and intrusions. Just like when you rent a property, the tenant has the right to peaceful enjoyment, that is, the owner just can’t turn up on the doorstep when they feel like it.

If these requests are driven from a reasonable suspicion of wrong doing, then so be it, but to have the right to arbitrarily intrude, well that is something else. Is it Stalinism in the making? We shall see but I am arguing it is a slippery slope Australians should not go down. How is DOHA going to be accountable to the manner they conduct these interviews? The fact is they won’t be. The Commonwealth Ombudsman is too busy as it is.

You will see in the future, once the 8580 and 8581 conditions get established in the 494 and 491 visa program and there are no protests going on at Parliament House in Canberra, they will move this condition slowly onto every temporary visa subclass. I’ll start taking bets on this shortly.

Will you be the holder of the new 491 or 494 in the future? Be afraid, be very afraid, next time you open that inbox.