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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 16

(Question No. 4430)

Mr Price asked the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, upon notice, on 20 August 1986:

(1) What are his Department's guidelines for sending cables to overseas posts seeking information about sponsorship applications.

(2) What are the targets with respect to time for a response to cables at overseas posts.

(3) Does his Department monitor the performance of each overseas post in responding to cables.

(4) For each overseas post what was (a) the average time taken to respond to cables in 1985 and (b) what was the longest response time in that year.

(5) What action does his Department take in respect of poor performance by its overseas posts.

(6) What such action has been taken in the last 2 years.

Mr Hurford —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) As a general rule, where the average processing time for the particular post has elapsed, and/or where there are special circumstances of an urgent compassionate nature, Immigration Offices in Australia will undertake to seek information about sponsorships being processed overseas.

It should be noted that as sponsorships are generally lodged overseas by the relative(s) being sponsored, Immigration Offices in Australia normally have no record of these sponsorships. Sponsors in these cases are therefore encouraged to seek information from the relative(s) being sponsored. Sponsors who lodge their applications in Australia (answer PQ4428 (1) refers) should of course enquire at Offices in Australia.

See also answer to PQ4424 (4).

(2) The urgency or priority with which these requests are currently handled is usually dictated by the circumstances. This is determined on a case by case basis.

(3) and (4) There is no general monitoring of overseas posts' responses to cables. Posts are expected to respond and normally do respond to cables within a reasonable period of time. The performance of overseas posts in responding to cables should be seen in the case by case context in which information is sought from overseas posts. The relative urgency of a request for information is indicated by the degree of priority given to the outgoing cable and the response is generally mindful of this. It should be recognised, however, that progress in processing applications in many parts of the world is comparatively slow because of local factors such as poor communications systems and difficulties in obtaining required documentation. As requests for information about a sponsorship frequently involve the need for an overseas post to contact the applicant or obtain a supporting document, these same local factors inhibit the timeliness of posts' responses.

(5) and (6) See answer to question upon notice No. 4426.