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‘Menace on the roads’: Migrant refused Australian citizenship over traffic offences

Australian Citizenship certificate Source: AAP

An Australian permanent resident has lost his appeal for Australian citizenship due to his numerous traffic offences which included 25 speeding offences, four offences of driving while suspended and many more.

A permanent resident has been termed a “menace on the roads” after his application for Australian citizenship was refused due to multiple traffic offences, including 25 speeding fines and eight convictions.

The rap sheet of Bangladeshi national Sogir Ahmed includes traffic offences ranging from driving without displaying “L” Plates and without the supervision of a qualified while on a Learner’s licence, exceeding the speed limit, driving on expired driver licence, driving with marijuana present in his blood.

Though he didn’t make any bones about these offences in the citizenship application lodged in March 2017 and was entirely open, even attached a national police certificate, he said the offences occurred at a time when he was “young and immature”.

In view of his numerous traffic offences, the Department of Home Affairs refused his citizenship application in January 2018. Mr Ahmed sought to have the decision reversed by an appeal in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

His driving record is appalling when one adds the totality of the record of offences to those for which he was convicted in the courts.

When during the hearing of his appeal last month, Senior Member of the AAT, Chris Puplick asked Mr Ahmed the number of speeding fines he had had, he replied: “I didn’t do much speeding”, adding that he may have had 4-5 fines.

Mr Puplick then read out the details of each of his 25 speeding offences to him for which he paid nearly $5,500 in fines between January 2009 and October 2015.

During this period he was found to have been driving with an expired licence four times. His most recent offence in October 2015 involved driving with marijuana present in his blood.

Road rules
Image obtained by SBS Punjabi

For these offences, fines were imposed along with licence suspension – two periods of three months, one period of six months and one period of three years. His current suspension will end in January 2019. Besides these convictions, his driving record also included offences of driving while disqualified, using a mobile phone while driving, failing to observe traffic lights, failing to give details after a crash. 

He told the Tribunal that he understood that he was entitled to drive on his international licence when his Australian licence was suspended.

His international driver licence was also withdrawn for a period of one year on the grounds that he was “not a fit and proper person in view of recorded offences”.

The Tribunal noted that he appears to have been "consistently a member of the productive workforce. Mr Ahmed presented character references attesting to his personal qualities of being “kind, helpful, selfless and ethical”, and that he is remorseful and trying to rebuild his life and eluded to the fact that he has not committed any traffic offence since his last recorded offence October 2015.

However, the AAT said the time elapsed is insufficient and during this period he had been prohibited from driving.

It said Mr Ahmed would require several years of a “clean” driving record after his licence is restored for the Tribunal to be satisfied that he had reformed himself as a responsible driver and road user.

“Put bluntly, he was a menace on the roads and by his blatant, frequent and sustained disregard of Australia’s laws as they relate to driving and road safety, he fails to manifest the degree of respect for the law which this nation is entitled to expect from people seeking to join its ranks of citizenship,” Mr Puplick said.

The AAT said that speeding was the top cause of car accidents in Australia in 2016 and that this year until October, 1193 people had died on the nation’s roads.

What Mr Ahmed needs to do is get his driver’s licence, demonstrate that he is now a responsible driver and that he has genuine insight into his past failings and then seek to have a new application assessed. - Chris Puplick, Senior Member, AAT

He said Mr Ahmed displayed a lack of insight into the severity of his offending.

Affirming the Department’s decision to refuse his citizenship application, the AAT said Mr Ahmed had not gained that “level of comfort” to earn the “privilege” of Australian citizenship.

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