UPDATE - Peter Kranz reported late this afternoon....
A result at last! Thanks in no small part to Keith and PNG Attitude, the Australian High Commission today confirmed that visas for Rose's two sisters have been approved.
And many thanks for your kind comments, dear readers.
CLAIMING it would improve efficiency, the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby outsourced its visa application procedures to a British company called TT Services.
On its website TT Services brags that it is dedicated “to excellence and innovation …. a trusted partner for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide.”
But if my family's experience is anything to go by, this is far from the truth.
My Simbu wife, Rose, has cancer. She has had two major operations and is now halfway through a course of chemotherapy. Her chances of survival are around 40%. Fortunately she is a fighter.
Her greatest wish is for her sisters from Papua New Guinea to come to Australia to help look after her.
The effects of radical chemotherapy are not pretty. Rose is easily prone to infections, she is weak and nauseous and has lost her hair.
So, back in July, we helped her mother and two of her sisters apply for tourist visas to come to Australia to be with her.
Despite the promised five-day turnaround, in the case of her sisters we have met with obfuscation, neglect and excuses from TTS. We still await the visas three months later.
The TTS pricing strategy is particularly galling. First the visa application fee. Then we were told we needed to pay an online tracking fee. Then a medical examination fee.
Rose’s mother, Mana, was granted a visa in early September without a medical.
They two sisters were told they required X-Rays and a medical examination when exactly the same information was provided on all the visa applications
Apparently this is a new requirement for any Papua New Guinean visiting someone in Australia who is ill, although it is not mentioned on the High Commission website or tourist visa application form.
Two weeks ago I visited PNG to try to sort this out. We got the X-Rays (they are sent to Australia for checking) but, despite a promised 72-hour turnaround, we have heard nothing since.
I tried visiting the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby last week but was turned away. "We don't accept inquiries about visas,” I was told.
So we have been waiting since July to get tourist visas for my sisters to come to Australia. Their passports are fine, the women are of good character and are visiting on compassionate grounds to be with their sister.
But apparently this is not good enough for Australian Immigration, the Australian High Commission or their lackeys in TT Services.
This is a disgrace and Australia should be ashamed.
By way of contrast, I applied for a tourist visa to visit PNG and was granted one within three days and at no cost by the PNG Consulate in Sydney.
Something is terribly wrong here and the Australian High Commission needs to investigate it.
It seems to me to be either gross incompetence or blatant corruption, and the Australian government is turning a blind eye.
And we still await the promised response.