Some time ago (see related articles, below) I wrote how an official letter had angered and hurt me and I also questioned the meaning of the oath sworn by Ministers. While I am not going to publish the whole stream of correspondence, I am publishing a few extracts here.
Months before this particular exchange of correspondence I had written to the Minister requesting a meeting. A staff member had responded on his behalf, stating the Minister did not have time to meet me. Why not, I wondered? I still wonder. If one’s job is to serve the people, one should be able to meet with people directly impacted by one’s position when necessary. Certainly I agree the Minister could not meet with every person impacted by the department – that would be impossible. Let us not forget taxpayers pay to staff departments, one would hope reasonably appropriately: there is such a thing as delegation. Even if the Minister is too busy personally, the responsibility can and should be delegated when suitable. It is not as if I or my case were unknown to the department.
I wrote back to express my dissatisfaction, well prior to the MRT hearing:
I also asked seven very specific questions that I believe I had a right to receive answers to. Some of these were specific to my case, others were of a more general nature and would apply to any case such as mine. As a taxpayer, I want to know that the government are giving adequate consideration to the full ramifications of situations such as ours.
The Minister did respond to my letter, but now, instead of not having time to meet me, I was not in the public interest. If the welfare of a member of the public is not in the public interest, exactly what is? By the time this letter was written, the MRT case was well and truly finalised, so that paragraph was obsolete.
There were NO answers to any of my questions. In fact, there was not even any acknowledgement that I had asked any questions. I might have been prepared to accept something along the lines of answers were not possible for security reasons, but no acknowledgement is not acceptable. “I will well and truly serve the people of Australia”: treating a citizen in this way is not “well and truly” serving.
Is this the sort of service we, the people, deserve? I don’t think so. What sort of service do you expect from your elected representatives? Let us not forget my local representative was “not interested” in my case either.
Has there never been intervention under any other circumstances than those given above? Reading media reports, I am lead to believe there is a great deal more discretion about intervention than the letter states.
What sort of immigration case would be defined as being in the public interest? A famous tennis player or weight-lifter to bolster our Olympic hopes perhaps? Certainly not a case involving a citizen, it seems. I am well aware the spin doctors would come back with “Oh, but we are not saying YOU are not in the public interest, we are saying your CASE is not….”. Really? In this sort of situation I am my case – the two cannot be separated. The spin doctors may also try the “it is not your case, but your husband’s case” argument. No, this was MY life, not just my husband’s and children’s lives being impacted. When we are speaking of a married couple, a family, it is not possible to say only the visa applicant is impacted. So forget the spin. It is just like telling me a letter I consider defamatory was “not intended to cause offence” – spin.
Is it not in the public interest to bring to the public’s attention the failure of Australia to uphold the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights? I suggest it is in the public interest to raise such issues. As a demographic, we may not be a numerous group: we are entitled to humane treatment, no matter how many or few of us there are. We are entitled to respect. We are citizens.