This really will be the most frightening story you have ever heard. But, for it to qualify as frightening for you, you have to be either:
a) Currently living here in Australia as a Permanent Resident (PR) or….
b) Hoping to move here soon as a Permanent Resident.
If either of these applies to you, read on, it will scare the pants off you! If neither of the above does apply, instead of being scared, you will probably just be horrified instead.
Let us begin…..
Chapter 1: Public Transport in Brisbane
Once upon a time, when I first arrived here in 2007 actually, this was how public transport worked in the city.
1) Decide to catch either a bus, CityCat or a train.
2) If bus or CityCat, get on bus or CityCat and buy ticket.
3) If train, buy ticket from station then get on train.
4) Get off when at destination.
Just three months after I arrived, in February 2008, that all changed. After having the same idea many other major cities have had, and having invested $134 million, Brisbane launched the go card. It’s an electronic ticketing system.
A go card is the same size as a credit card. Simply add credits to it (pay $$$) and then “touch on” and “touch off” your go card with the card readers located at all train stations and on each bus or CityCat. No need to bother the bus driver to buy a ticket or take up the time of those working in the ticket offices in train stations or on the CityCat.
More fair dinkum!
But not quite. The go card has been dogged with problems since its introduction.
- There were concerns over people’s privacy with these electronic cards recording everyone’s journeys.
- There was outrage as standard ticket prices were hiked up by as much as 40% to persuade people to switch to go cards.
- Users with less than perfect vision had problems reading the information on the reader screens.
But the biggest problems revolved around the equipment’s failure to work on so many occasions. Stories of a 10% failure rate, stories of 2,500 errors a month, stories of system breakages costing $2,000 a week in uncollected fares……
Read more stories here: Yahoo News
And here: Brisbane Times
Go card isn’t exactly a winner in these parts.
Chapter 2: Moving to Australia
It’s not easy to qualify for a PR visa to live in Australia. To be successful, you will usually need to be under 50 years of age, have a good education, speak English fluently and, normally, have a work skill for which there is a shortage here along with acceptable qualifications for that skill.
In addition, you will need to be in good health and prove you have no criminal record by providing a fresh and up-to-date police records check.
One man who did manage to get through the stringent qualifying criteria was Brit Mark Littler, 30. Mark, described as a hard-working engineer, was on his way to a Christmas party in 2009. He needed to catch a train from Morningside into the city, but his go card didn’t work when he tried to “touch on” at the unstaffed train station.
He boarded the train anyway.
According to Mr Littler, he reported his faulty go card to a transit officer at the earliest opportunity after boarding the train. The officer took his details and gave him a warning and later he received a $200 fine.
He appealed and it ended up in court. The judge upheld the fine and recorded a conviction against Mark Littler.
He now has a criminal record.
As a general rule, anyone who lives here on a PR visa, and keeps their nose clean (no, not with a handkerchief, but by staying out of trouble) for a period of four years, has an excellent chance of becoming an Australian citizen. Australian citizens cannot be deported, people living here on PR visas can.
But now Mr Littler has a criminal record, what are his chances of becoming an Australian citizen?
According to an immigration spokesman, his crime would be regarded as a “minor fraud offence”, and could affect his application, although each is considered on a “case-by-case” basis. The judge noted that the conviction would “materially affect his application”.
So it seems to me that thanks to a dodgy electronic ticket system resulting in an unpaid $2.65 fare and bureaucracy gone mad, one skilled and hard-working Britain may find it very difficult to extend his stay here in Australia.
That is not fair dinkum!
Having said all that, I did not attend the court case and have not read the transcripts. All I know about this case, I got from an article in the Courier Mail. From my experience using go card, the company that operates it are usually quite forgiving in many circumstances, maybe because they know the system is not so good.
So I can’t help thinking that there may be more to this story. Although it’s difficult to believe that, whatever happened, Mark Littler should be on the receiving end of a criminal record. As the Courier Mail article says, others have done far worse with out having a conviction recorded.
What the story does illustrate though, without doubt, is that you should be very very careful indeed about how you conduct yourself whilst living here in Australia on a PR visa.
I’ve only got three months to go before I can apply for my citizenship, perhaps I will stay in until then.
Did you notice that this story was only covered by the tabloids? Particularly the ones owned by News Corporation in the UK and Australia. I guess the moral of the story is to not believe everything you read in thre Murdoch owned press…
Maybe both are ignorant. If you spend some time on the emigration forums, you’ll read of people with far serious criminal records getting visas – and extremely few who get rejected.
Especially as not having a substantial criminal record, by DIACs own guidelines would give reason to appeal…
Well, let’s just hope the person who deals with the case, when it comes up, is as knowledgeable as you are not as ignorant as the judge and the immigration spokeman from the story.
It would be a scary story if the conclusion drawn was factual. Having a criminal record is not a bar to Australian permanent residency or Citizenship – unless the crime you committed is considered especially heinous (for example rape, gun crime etc) or you have shown a pattern of repeat offending or were sentenced to a year or more in prison.
In the case of the guy in your article, he will easily pass the DIAC character requirement: http://www.immi.gov.au/media/fact-sheets/79character.htm
Obviously it was wrong to convict him…
From DIACs requirement, a person will not pass the test where…. “having regard to the person’s past and present criminal conduct, the person is found not to be of good character”….
Surely being convicted of a “minor fraud offence” could trigger that one and they also say…. “having regard to the person’s past and present general conduct, the person is found to be not of good character” – sounds like a clause to allow DIAC to do what it likes!
They also have a clause that reads “having regard to the person’s past and present general conduct, the person is found to be not of good character” so if they chose to they could blackball you for non-criminal conduct…
The reality is unless you have a Substantial Criminal record i.e:
A person is deemed to have a substantial criminal record if they have been:
* sentenced to either death or life imprisonment
* sentenced to a term of imprisonment for 12 months or more
* sentenced to two or more terms of imprisonment (whether on one or more occasions), where the total of those terms is two years or more
* acquitted of an offence on the grounds of either unsoundness of mind or insanity and, as a result, the person has been detained in a facility or institution.
So, being done for fare evasion will not cause any issues when applying for PR or citizenship….
Well the judge and the immigration spokeman don’t see it your way and I’m not sure I do either. But I do hope you are right, for Mr Littler’s sake.
I thought about this bloke today. He was given a $1625 fine and allowed to stay.
Thanks for the update Peach, I just Googled it, yes he was given a $1625 fine and allowed to stay.
I have to say though, that since I wrote this article I have spoken at some length to two different MARA registered migration agents and they have both pretty much confirmed what you have said about the character test.
Despite what the judge, the spokespeople and the press were saying, I now think it really was highly unlikely that this would result in a deportation. Scaremongering sells papers I suppose.
So my scariest story ever told turns out to not have been so scary after all. Live and learn.
So, my apologies for doubting you, you were right.
that was not fair! 🙁
Yes, seems harsh.
This story neither shocked or scared me as I read about it already in the English press lol :o)
Wow! The story reached England?
Yes, believe it or not. My mother-in-law is originally from Oz and her family always say that lots of English news makes it’s way over there but not much or yours makes it over here. Not sure, but I think I read it in The Sun :o)
Ah The Sun – I still read that online from time to time. We don’t have a paper like that here, which is strange being as Murdoch is Australian.