Indian’s death in Australia highlights immigration flaws

Sydney, Aug 17 (IANS) The death of an Indian immigrant who lived under appalling conditions in Australia has highlighted the flaws in the country’s immigration system, an official said on Monday.

According to Deputy State Coroner Hugh Dillon, the death of Manjit Singh was one of the saddest stories he ever heard, describing it as a “21st-century retelling” of George Orwell’s “How the poor die”, the Geelong Advertiser reported.

Singh arrived in Australia in February 2006, thinking that his promised $43,000 a year salary would allow him to support his family in India.

He was sponsored by Anmol Holdings, a company trading as north Indian flavour in Darlinghurst.

The Indian was living in a slave-like condition, sleeping in the restaurant’s storeroom, malnourished and working 16 hours a day with little pay.

He died in 2011 from the complications of his once-latent tuberculosis, which flared up due to malnourishment, folate deficient and severe vitamin D deficiency.

An inquest into his death was heard on Monday.

Dillon said that according to counsel for department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), the current system was “not broken, so there is no need to fix it”.

“I hope that DIBP is not so complacent that it thinks that Manjit Singh’s case is unimportant for what it reveals about the potential threats to the welfare of 457 visa (temporary) holders, and for public health,” Dillon said.

“And I hope that DIBP is not so complacent that it believes its systems cannot be improved,” he added.

Dillon said he would be writing to the immigration minister about the case.

He also recommended that authorities work together to find the optimal policy for ensuring the health and welfare of temporary visa holders.

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