Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to EnnZed we go...
Here's what I needed to do to nip off to New Zealand for a week and a bit:
Ask for a passport, be told that they didn’t know whether I was a citizen or not; then
Ask DIMIA’s Citizenship branch whether I was a citizen or not, and be told that they didn’t know; then
Ask the piece of Citizenship which keeps the list whether I was a citizen or not, and be told that the people who could tell me were out of the office, “probably at a Christmas party”; then
Ring my local Federal Member’s office, who ring said list jockeys and are told that after 41 years in Australia, having been born of Australian parents, that I am a “Subject of the Commonwealth” but not a Citizen; then
Go back to Citizenship, start the forms process, ask how long it will take; and
Be told “two months, possibly three” — in mid December; then
Panic and ring DIMIA again, who suggest talking to the Canadians; then
Ring the Canadian Consulate, and be referred to the High Commission in Canberra; then
Ring the High Commission, be told “about a week” and get forms sent out;
Get photographed, thanks Jane, fill in forms; and
Get them notarised and signed by a duly authorised Australian signatory; and
Send them off to Canberra in an ExpressPost envelope; and
Get them back in two days with an annotation to the effect that a Commissioner for Declarations isn’t good enough, and suggesting a JP; then
Fill in forms again; and
Find a JP in Joondalup, who carefully notarises another copy of the photo, fills out the form and doesn’t sign it; then
Send the photo and form off to Canberra in an ExpressPost envelope; and
Get called the following day to explain about the signature; so
Find out that the previous JP isn’t available; then
Find another JP (a Wanneroo Shire Councillor named Dot, thanks Dot!) to annotate and sign; then
Race down to the post office and send the third set of forms and photo off to Canberra in an ExpressPost; and
Be called the following day to be told that an obscure line on the form hiding by the edge of a form division also needs to be filled out; then
Scream, find Dot again, who graciously condescends to sign a new form; and
Check that form most carefully, get others to check it too; then
Send it off to Canberra in an ExpressPost envelope; only to
Discover that it didn’t arrive the following day; so
Panic and ring AustPost with the magic tag, only to be told that as far as their records showed, it had never been mailed; so
Panic even more, ring the PO that I’d handed it in at, get them to check the basket under that counter, plus the edges and cracks in their sorting and bagging area; then
Have it delivered to Canberra the day after, with AustPost still not showing any record of it having been posted (or delivered); then
Have the High Commission people in Canberra turn the whole process around in the same day; and
Leap into the air, clicking my heels; then
Get the passport back the following day, with AustPost shepherding the thing at every stop and even ringing me when it arrived at the PO.
In parallel with this, I’ve been trying to get a Resident Return Visa.
On first call, DIMIA had told me that I needed a passport before I could apply for one. On second call, they said, no, it could be done in parallel, they only needed the passport so that they could stamp the visa onto it.
So I visited DIMIA, and I’m glad I brought my laptop along, because I spent over two hours waiting to be seen, even after Reception told me that “there’s not very many people waiting today”. I thought of and typed in nearly 1400 words that morning.
When I was seen, everything was signed, sealed, paid for and delivered except that they need the name of the ship I came in on before they can stamp the shiny new Canuck passport. For this, I’m waiting to hear back from Dad. Karen, the DIMIA staffer I saw, also explained that I could get the RRV stamp at any Australian embassy in the world, at any time before I stepped onto the ’plane.
Three contacts, three different stories.