Blogging Senate Estimates (part 3)

If someone tells you about a part of the public service which you could never even have imagined existing, they might be talking about the Office of the Migration Agent Registration Authority.  This body, an organisation to register and oversee migrant agents (like tax agents but for visas), was recently established to better police the sometimes unruly members of the migrant agent fraternity.

We have just learnt that 34 per cent of registered migration agents are also qualified lawyers, up from 26 per cent last year. 457 visas and refugee protection visas are the most common types of migration matters covered by migrant agents. Tony Wood, the CEO of the organisation, is now outlining complaints and sanctions against migrant agents.

We need a professional body to oversee migrant agents to lodge visas. However this shows how complicated visas and the legislation governing migration are. Unfortunately the ease of clients filling out forms is rarely considered when writing new legislation and regulations, creating an ever larger industry of migration services.

Lisa Singh is obviously whip smart. She is questioning the disparity between the total number of migration agent and those who have an official law qualification. This is where many of the issues of client exploitation come in, as people who are looking for a quick buck are unlikely to have a law degree, instead having undertaken the 6 month practicing course now available at universities. Good to see Senators who can easily sniff the air and see potential issues.

An interesting sidenote: The CEO just mentioned the organisation has been using Access databases for the backend of their website. This is a small insight shows how hard it is for small public service organisations to source and procure safe, secure IT infrastructure. The new website infrastructure is set at $1.2m and will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

We’re already overtime, which is always the case. At immigration hearings, citizenship and refugee settlement issues are often dealt with at 10.45pm to make up for lost time throughout the day, highlighting the priority they have.

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