A Fair Go? – Guaranteed! (A Rant)

[modified from the original, published March 12th, 2012]

I have just had the wonderful privilege of being a guarantor on a friend’s application for passport renewal. Now while it is very important that getting a passport occurs within a very strict security framework, I must rant about some aspects on the guarantor’s page of the form. If it is representative of the rest of the form then it really needs to be reworked.

Firstly, the page starts off stating who can become a guarantor. The person must:

5) – be able to satisfy and complete either A or B below, and sign the declaration

8) – possess a current (unexpired) Australian passport that was issued with at least 2 years validity, or be on the Electoral Roll (as an unrestricted Australian Electoral Roll registration, at your current address for the past 12 months)

The issue here is that point 8 just spells out what is stated in point 5 (ie repeats what is stated in A and B below), so one of these two points is redundant.

Then we get to A and B – Proof of Identity (guarantor). Here is the normal admin schmozzle.

If choosing to use your passport as proof of identity you need to enter the date of expiry. Only there is a conversion required because in the passport it is presented as dd/MMM/yyyy (eg 27 Aug 2019), but on the application form you have to enter it as dd/mm/yyyy (eg 27/08/2019).

If choosing to use the Electoral Roll as your proof of identity you must enter everything as shown on the Electoral Roll (ie no conversions). However my details do not show up in the on-line roll and so I guess they don’t for many people.

Lastly, one is required to specify how long one has known the applicant – specifying both years and months. This followed by the signature section in which it states; “It is a criminal offence to make misleading statements”.

Now none of the above is a biggy per se, but one needs to remember that this form is processed in an environment of extreme pedantry. For example one friend was refused because the form had been filled out with an ink that was not black enough ( or maybe blue enough – whatever). And then refused again for what seemed a similarly trivial issue.

Where accuracy is paramount, rely only on human copying without the conversions – people will always make mistakes. Only computers can do error free conversions reliably.

And what’s with the months requirement in the time of having known each other. This might be achievable if we’ve known each other for just a small number of years, but if you’ve known someone for quite a few years, even getting the years right is very error prone. With populations being so mobile these days, many relationships can’t be pegged to things like being in the same class at school. And who can check it anyway…

Passport applications need accurate details and precision for our security, but c’mon Aussie – we can do better than this.

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