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A migrant who travelled to Australia by sea and became a permanent resident nine years ago has had his Australian citizenship revoked after it was discovered he used a fake driver’s licence to get an Australian licence.
26-year-old Ali Haidari was granted a permanent protection visa in September 2010 after he arrived in Australia by the sea in February of that year.
The Afghan national applied for Australian citizenship in November 2014 which was approved in just over a month. However, the approval for his Australian citizenship was cancelled in August 2017 after it was found that Mr Haidari used a counterfeit Afghan driver’s licence and used it to obtain an Australian driver’s licence.
The information about the fake driver licence was disclosed during his interview with the officers of the Immigration Department (now the Department of Home Affairs) to make an up-to-date assessment of his identity.
Mr Haidari, a truck driver, provided the officers a Queensland driver’s licence issued in July 2013 for heavy vehicles. He told them that he had never driven trucks before and that he had arranged with his friends in Pakistan to get him a driver’s licence.
He told the officers that he paid money to his friends in Pakistan to arrange for the licence and said he did so to get a job without going through the usual process which requires obtaining a learner driver’s licence and then the Ps before going on to the full licence.
“I needed a job,” he told the officers, adding that when he came out of the detention centre, he applied for jobs but those required a car and driver licence.
When he was asked whether his Afghan driver’s licence was genuine, he said “no”.
Last week, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal quashed his application to review a decision to cancel the approval for his Australian citizenship on the basis that he was not of good character.
During the hearing of his appeal against the Department’s decision, Mr Haidari’s representative told the Administrative Appeals Tribunal that he had informed the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Transport in June 2017 (before the identity interview) he had provided a “non-genuine document” as part of the licencing process. The representative said the Queensland Department of Main Roads didn’t take any action against Mr Haidari and renewed his tow truck industry authority.
Mr Haidari also said that at the time when he provided the fraudulent licence to the Department of Main Roads, he wasn’t aware it was fake and claimed that only when some of the driver licences in the Hazara community were found to not genuine, he “started to think that the licence might not be genuine”.
Fake licence submitted 'knowingly and deliberately'
However, the Tribunal noted that the real wording of Mr Haidari’s submission to the Department of Main Roads was “the licence may not have been legitimate”.
The Tribunal said Mr Haidari had “knowingly and deliberately” given a fake licence.
“By his deceit, [he] has recklessly presented a danger to other road users, and himself,” AAT Member Roger Maguire said.
Mr Maguire said Mr Haidari had had a “track record of ignoring rules when he thinks he can get away with it”, noting that he had travelled from Afghanistan to Australia via Pakistan, Malaysia and Indonesia “without producing one legitimate passport or travel document”.
“It, therefore, should come as no real surprise that [Mr Haidari] has instigated and arranged the preparation and presentation of another false document,” Mr Maguire said.
Mr Maguire, while dismissing the appeal said Mr Haidari had gone into denial after being caught out.