Friday 10 June 2016

Canucks in Oz: Common Wealth Cousins or Climate Refugees?‏

Well darlins, it's been a month of insanity.  I won't bore you with all the ridiculousness, frustrations and world wobbling details, (I've talked a bit about it on the One People Show this past two weeks), but I am going to share with you the major points that have led to this moment.

Four weeks ago I began the early stages of applying for new Visa's so that we could stay here in Australia for the remainder of the year.  This entailed studying the Australian Immigration/Borders website and making several calls to them to verify that we knew exactly which visa to apply for and that we had all our paperwork and documents that we would need.

Long story short:  They denied our Visas, and literally the day after I processed my application on the Australian Government website, Paypal Locked me out of my account.

This came at the exact same as I was getting ready to re-launch Gaia's Gardens with a major event.  An event that required Paypal..... which I was (and still am) locked out of.  After 6 calls to Paypal offices in two different countries, I finally was told that the lock out was due to security issues because I hadn't notified Paypal that I was "out of the country".... except that I've been using my Paypal regularly for three months before their "security over-ride" finally recognized that I was in Australia.  Great security system, eh?  A week after multiple phone calls my Paypal is still under lock-down and they are not responding to any of my emails.

But that is just the side story at the moment.  The main issue is that our family now has 11 days to get out of Australia.   Below is a copy of the email that I have sent to several Australian Politicians- those involved with Tourism, Immigration, Small Business, Trade & Investment, etc- and the local media outlets.  This email explains the details of our journey of fuckupery that began in January 2016 with the failure of the Australian Governments Online Visa service, and ends with what can only be called "class discrimination", as the only way to even have our case reviewed or even be able to speak to anyone, is to pay $10,000 AU!!!!

Yes, you read that correctly.  In order to have our case reviewed at all, we have to apply to a tribunal and the cost just to process the application is $10,000 for a family of 6.  This is on top of the $2040 AU that we just spent on the Visa applications two weeks ago.

At this point we have exhausted all of our options and basically the last thing I can think of to try, is to ask everyone to Flash Mob  the Government and media in a last ditch effort to get someone to actually listen to us. If you read the email below, you'll see that it's been a shit show cluster fuck from the very beginning back in January.

So, If this resonates with you, please forward this email below, with the subject line: "Let the Arnold/Mckenny Family Stay!"  to all of the media and government emails below.

Thank you my friends.  I will post an update as soon as I can

love d

UPDATE June 16/2016:  We have just sent a request to Immigration to have our "Bridging Visas" deadline extended until July 30th while we are dealing with Paypal to have our Business Accounts released from Limitation as all of our travel/tickets are booked using that Paypal account.

.... oh and Paypal?  I finally was able to get through to a "supervisor" at Paypal yesterday, after 8 phone calls to Paypal Canada and Australia over the past two weeks.  I was informed by the "supervisor" that these "reviews" on business accounts should only take 24-48 hours to complete.... but suddenly they now take 30 DAYS to complete.  30 days in which all accounts are frozen and all the money in those accounts are collecting interest..... in Paypal's accounts.  Not yours or mine.



Canucks in Oz: Common Wealth Cousins or Climate Refugees?‏ 

I would like to tell you the story of a Canadian Family that came to visit Australia....

Herein is a Saga that deals with tourism, immigration, foreign relations, small businesses, international trade, and technical glitches extraordinaire.....

Having traveled and lived in foreign non-english speaking countries extensively for the past few years, we were very excited when we were invited by friends to come to Australia in December 2015. We jumped at the opportunity to spend a year in an english speaking country to explore business opportunities and to give our children the chance to re-englishize themselves again with kids their own age.

The plan: To investigate, negotiate and work towards expanding our company into Australia, and to use Australia as a base to export our products into Asia, partnering with and hiring several associates in Australia to run this import/export business.

Pretty much from the moment we began our plans to travel to Australia, we've been plagued with unending problems that all revolve around the Australian  Immigration and Border Protection government agency.  In January 2016 I tried multiple times to use their website to apply online for the business Visitor Visa 600, only to have it fail again and again. Friends in Australia called Immigration and were told that yes, the online system is "having issues" and "technical glitches", and it was suggested by the agent that our family apply for the Electronic Transit Authority Visa instead. It was confirmed through the same dept. that once we had arrived in Australia that we could apply IN country for the 600 Visa that would allow us to stay in Australia for the full year, as we had planned.  The ETA instantly gave us our Visa, and on February 25th we began our journey to the land of Oz.

Fast forward to last month, May 2016. I began the process of getting ready to apply for the business Visitor Visa 600 to extend our stay till January 2017.  During two separate phone calls to the Immigration dept to verify and insure that I was applying for the correct visa and had all the information I needed to process our applications, I was told by both agents to apply for this same Visa 600.  So I did.  For all 6 of us.

Even here in Australia I ran into continuous issues with the online application, and made a desperate phone call to Immigration to ask if we could just go to the offices in Brisbane and process all of this (insane amount of) paperwork in person, only to be told NO, it MUST be done online. The very first shock was that the Visa that would have cost us $135 each back in January when we first tried to apply, was now $340 per person because we are IN Australia.   Once I was finally able to process all 20 pages of the online applications for each of us, I immediately began the daunting job of trying to upload multiple documents that we were officially requested to provide.  Again, after multiple failures of the online system I finally emailed all the documentation for myself and my husband- following the protocols we were sent. .... only to discover that the Immigration dept had sent my husband the wrong email address to send our paperwork to.  No Seriously, they did.

After 3 epic days of technological failures and hair pulling frustration, I was finally able to send the very last document, as requested.... and within hours I received notification that our Visa's had been Denied.

It took almost 2 hours to get a phone call through to the Immigration dept. and when I asked WHY we had been denied our Visa, this was what we were told:

 The business Visitor Visa 600 is for (and I quote from the Australian Gov website) "Business visitor purposes may include attending a conference, negotiation or an exploratory business visit.". Which is exactly what we are here to do: to investigate setting up a company in Australia to facilitate export of our products into Asia. But according to the Australian Immigration/Border Dept, while traveling to Australia using a business visitor visa.... you can't actually DO business, such as: Setting up a business.  Why?  Because, and again I quote: "If you (we) set up a business here in Australia, at sometime in the future you might make money and therefore you can't have a Visitor Visa."

Needless to say I asked to speak to a manager, a supervisor or anyone  who would possibly have the ability to help us fix what was obviously a horrendous mess.   Nope.  No one.  I was told in no uncertain terms that I had NO ability to speak to anyone, and that the only avenue I had open was try to appeal the decision through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, with a cost of more than $1600 per person, or just over $10,000!!!!  OH, and would the $2040 we sent them for our applications be refunded?  Nope. No way.

So..... here we sit. Our family now has to leave Australia, because we tried to expand our business here, with the plan to use Australia as a base of operations for export/business into Asia. A plan that would have employed several of our aussie friends and would have bought in revenue to the Australian Government, through import and export, taxation, and no doubt a few other hundred ways that governments make money off of small businesses. We are not Rich. We are hard working average everyday people, just trying to build a better place and a better future for our family. We do not have $1,673 x 6 people = $10,038 to spend on lodging an AAT review, (with absolutely NO guarantee that we would win the appeal).


* we applied for the Visa that the government agents told us to apply for
* we paid much higher prices due to the failure of the Australian Government website to process our 12 month visas back in January
* we jumped through every hoop that the government agents set in front of us

The average family visiting a foreign country has budgeted for a set amount of time, and doesn't have thousands upon thousands of dollars extra to pay for a secondary governmental agency to review a case that was caused 100% by the failure of that same government to provide accurate information, and to process our applications within their own protocols.

So, as Canadians, from the same Common Wealth as Australia, don't we have a right to a fair hearing? Do we have zero recourse to respond unless we pay an extortionate price to have our voices heard? Is this not a glaring case of class discrimination?

We have a Right to a tribunal review..... but only if we have lots of money to pay for it?

I have to say that I'm am exceedingly shocked and appalled by the (in)actions of the Australian Government and it's agents. I have traveled and lived all over this planet in the past 25 years. I have dealt with the governments of dictators in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cambodia, I have dealt with governments of religious monarchy's in Morocco, I have dealt with communist governments in Viet Nam and Cuba, I have dealt with governments all over Europe and South East Asia. I have dealt with the most swollen pompous bureaucratic governments in the world: in the USA and England....

.... yet I always had a voice and I was always able to have my voice heard, been able to resolve any issues, and I have been able to move forward working with those governments, no matter the issue at hand.

... Perhaps we should just apply to the Australian government as Climate Refugees?    Maybe then we might get a hearing?

Winter is coming, after all.

With Regrets,


Epilogue I: 6 days ago I sent the above letter, with further background information, to the following Politicians, whom I chose for their positions in government that are associated with our situation.  (see email list below).  As of this moment, not one of them has responded.

Epiloge II: 2 days ago I sent the above letter to the media and cc'ed all of the same politicians. As of this moment, not one of them has responded.

Politician Twitter and Facebook:


Politician email addresses

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Media email list:

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