AR LAW SERVICES was retained by a client who by his own admission had got caught up in the “wrong” crowd when he was a young man. And as is often the case the mistakes of our past shape our future. This was a long and difficult case. We were first retained in 2018 and the decision was only handed down yesterday. AR LAW SERVICES is a leading immigration and regulatory law firm, not only are we masters of migration law but we are also specialist Crimmigration lawyers. In fact AR LAW SERVICES has represented arguably one of Australia’s most notorious criminals – his notoriety due largely to his involvement with a daring prison escape and connection to the last man hanged in Australia. It is this work: in both criminal defense and Migration law that puts AR LAW SERVICES in the best place to assist non-citizens in criminal/police or character matters cases.
The applicant had applied for Australian citizenship but due to his extensive criminal history; a criminal history that included “trafficking cannabis – dishonest receipt of stolen goods- unlawful assault and criminal damage – possession of cannabis and a range of drunk driving and other offences over a 5 year period which lead to a period of imprisonment and a slew of fines and bonds. On 3 August 2018, the Delegate refused the Application on the basis that the Applicant had failed to satisfy the general residence requirement in s 22(1)(b) of the Act. The Applicant applied to the Tribunal for review of that decision and on 6 December 2018, the matter was remitted by consent to the Delegate for redetermination. However on 22 June 2019, a Delegate again refused the application on the basis that the Delegate was not satisfied that the Applicant met the good character requirement under s 21(2)(h) of the Act.
On 12 July 2019, AR LAW SERVICES filed an Application for review of the Decision in accordance with s 52(1)(b) of the Act. As the “T” documents (the case book) made clear, the applicant did have a checkered past. However AR LAW SERVICES has long understood that salvation for many clients lie not only in their choices but also the correct and preferable interpretation of the law. And that is what AR LAW SERVICES is expert in. AR LAW SERVICES immediately began to refashion the applicant’s narrative for central to the legal test of character is a temporal element. As the Member noted (in agreement with AR LAW SERVICES) at 40:
The only issue for determination by the Tribunal is whether the Applicant is a person of good character for the purposes of s 21(2)(h) of the Act. This requires an assessment of whether the Applicant “is of good character, at the time of the Minister’s decision on the application”. As the Tribunal now stands in the shoes of the Minister for the purpose of these proceedings, the assessment as to the Applicant’s character is to be made at the time of the Tribunal’s decision The term good character is not defined in the Act. The Tribunal has, in many decisions, adopted the observations of Justice Lee in Irving v Minister for Immigration, Local Government and Ethnic Affairs: …the words ‘good character’ should be taken to be used in their ordinary sense, namely, a reference to the enduring moral qualities of a person, and not to the good standing, fame or repute of that person in the community. The former is an objective assessment apt to be proved as a fact whilst the latter is a review of subjective public opinion…A person who has been convicted of a serious crime and thereafter held in contempt in the community, nonetheless may show that he or she has reformed and is of good character…Conversely, a person of good repute may be shown by objective assessment to be a person of bad character.
The member went on (once again in agreement with AR LAW SERVICES) to sum up:
The term enduring moral qualities encompasses characteristics which have endured over a long period of time, the ability to distinguish right from wrong and behaviour which is ethical and conforms to the rules and values of Australian society. After 3 years and several directions hearings and two (2) days at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal General List the member held: The term enduring moral qualities encompasses characteristics which have endured over a long period of time, the ability to distinguish right from wrong and behaviour which is ethical and conforms to the rules and values of Australian society. The decision under review was set aside and the matter was remitted to the Respondent with the direction that the Applicant satisfies s 21(2)(h) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.