I didn't know this.
Immigration department refuses visa under two-brides-and-you're-out rule
- Natasha Bita National Social Editor
- News Limited Network
- August 22, 2013 10:05AM
Rex Petersen with photos of his 35 year old girlfriend, Mariel Canales from the town of Dulag in Leyte, Philippines. Photo: Murray Ware
DURING his 69 years, Rex Petersen has loved too much - at least according to the Immigration Department.
Mr Petersen, who has been married three times before, has been banned from bringing his 36-year-old girlfriend from the Philippines after authorities invoked an obscure two-brides-and-you're-out policy.
The ice cream van operator from Brisabane is currently in the process of divorcing his third wife, a Filipino woman he married when she was 26 after they met on holidays in the Northern Territory.
His previous marriage was to a woman from the Seychelles, which lasted just over 18 years, and his first wife was an Australian woman of Czechoslovakian heritage to whom he was married for 15 years.
But because two of his brides have already immigrated on wedding visas he has been barred from getting another.
"The immigration officer told me that because I already had two spouses from overseas, I wouldn't be able to have another wife unless one dies,'' he said yesterday. "I said, 'What sort of dictator brought that in?'
"I told Immigration I'd go overseas, throw away my passport and we'd jump on a boat together and come in as illegal immigrants. She was not impressed.
"My cases are genuine marriages and the fact the last one only lasted four and a half years is bad luck.
"I was 37 years older - that was a problem because my children were about the same age and she just didn't get on with my family.''
Mr Petersen's lawyer Tim O'Dwyer said he found the Immigration Department's stance "very surprising''.
"This is more about border control than love and freedom of marriage,'' Mr O'Dwyer said.
Mr Petersen said he had met his new girlfriend, 36-year-old Mariel Canales, from southern Leyte in the Philippines, on the internet 16 months ago and had flown over to meet her.
But when he called the Immigration Department to inquire about a spouse visa, he was told "quite bluntly'' that while he was free to marry Ms Canales he could not bring her to Australia.
"It's a bit like saying you can only have one baby,'' he said.
"We're a free country, you should be able to marry who you want.
"I'm not marrying just to bring someone in to get a bounty.''
An Immigration Department spokeswoman said yesterday the two-bride limit had been "put in place to increase integrity and minimise abuse within the partner visa program.''
The rules for a partner visa state that "you may not be able to sponsor your partner if you have previously sponsored two other partners for migration to Australia''.
But the ban can be lifted in "compelling circumstances'', including a relationship lasting two years or more, or having children together.
The waiver means Mr Petersen might be able to reapply in eight months.
Mr Petersen said a Chinese family had offered him $10,000 in 1984 to marry their daughter to bring her into Australia, but he "wasn't interested in being part of it''.
"The money has got nothing to do with it,'' he said. "I spend money on them.''
But Mr Petersen said his girlfriend had "never asked me for one cent''.
"She's an industrious person,'' he said. "She doesn't have a really big interest in coming to Australia anyway.
"She has a property for rental and has started a boarding house for students in Leyte.''
Mr Petersen said he "especially likes'' Filipino women.
"I don't know why - it's just a preference I suppose,'' he said.
"I like them and blondes.'