Roads and Traffic Authority Licence Name Policy
|About this Item||Subjects||Roads and Traffic Authority: RTA; Licences
||Speakers||Richardson Mr Michael
||Business||Private Members Statements
Mr MICHAEL RICHARDSON (The Hills) [5.47 p.m.]: I raise yet another example of the bureaucratic nonsense we have to endure under the Iemma Labor Government. One of my constituents recently attempted to obtain a driver's licence in his full name, Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan. He was rejected because his previous licence was in his non-Anglicised name, Wing Hon Tan. He was told he would have to go to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to change his name by deed poll from Wing Hon Tan to Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan, at a cost of $120. One might ask: So what? If his name really is Wing Hon Tan, why should the Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA] not insist on retaining that name for his driver's licence? The fact is that his name really is Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan, and he is a minister of religion to boot!
Reverend Tan showed me an impressive collection of documentation proving that he really is Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan, including a certificate of Australian citizenship dated 17 May 1983, a current Australian passport, a letter of appointment as a Justice of the Peace dated 1989, a letter of reappointment as a Justice of the Peace dated November 2005, a certificate of baptism from 1979 from Hong Kong and identification tags from both the State Emergency Services and the Department of Corrective Services—he is a chaplain to both. But the coup de grace was a letter from the New South Wales Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages appointing Reverend Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan as a minister of religion "authorised to solemnise marriages at any place in Australia."
I want honourable members to think about this. The bureaucrats at the RTA want the Reverend Tan to go down to the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to change his name from Wing Hon Tan to Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan when both the registry and the department that administers it, the Attorney General's Department, recognise his name as Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan. The only other place in the world where I can conceive of anything as patently absurd as this occurring is Soviet-era Russia, where creating a labyrinth of red tape like this was part of the Kremlin's employment strategy. Fostering one of the world's most impenetrable bureaucracies generated plenty of jobs for the proletariat, as did make-work schemes like employing women to wind toilet paper onto cardboard rolls at the ends of hotel corridors.
How did this occur? How was it possible for Reverend Tan to have a certificate of Australian citizenship, a passport and a Justice of the Peace appointment in his own name and still be refused a New South Wales driver's licence as Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan? The answer lies in the more laissez-faire regime in place at the forerunner of the RTA, the Department of Main Roads [DMR], in 1980. When Reverend Tan arrived in this country he carried a Hong Kong driver's licence and because of that he did not have to pass a driving test in this country. He simply filled in some forms, showed the DMR officers his old licence and was issued with a new one.
The old licence was in the name of Wing Hon Tan, the name he had taken in 1972, replacing his birth name of Tang Wing Hon. Because of that, no amount of smooth talking by Reverend Tan, no producing of gilt-edged proof, such as his Australian passport or his certificate of Australian citizenship, would convince the RTA that his name really is Nicephorus. The cost of Reverend Tan registering his name change by deed poll is $120. He objects to forking out this money, and who can blame him? After all, the Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages already knows him as Nicephorus, or is it about to write to him withdrawing his approval to conduct marriages, as well as notifying the Justice of the Peace section of the Attorney General's Department that he is an impostor who should be struck off the list forthwith? Frankly, if it is good enough for the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, it should be good enough for the RTA. The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs is the senior agency and is at the forefront of protecting Australia from terrorism.
The RTA has just about the worst press of any government agency—something that is fairly hard to achieve, given the level of competition! Some honourable members might be inclined to ask: Why would Reverend Tan bother? The answer is simple. In this society you have to have one name, not two—as Reverend Tan found to his cost when he went to open an account at the ANZ Bank. The bank refused to open the account in the name of Nicephorus Wing Hon Tan because—you have guessed it—that was not the name on his driver's licence. It did not matter that he had other documentation adding up to well over 100 points, including his passport. The bank was not interested. I have suggested to Reverend Tan that he takes his 100 points back to the bank and accepts no nonsense from them this time. I am hopeful he will be successful. The RTA is a different story. What is needed here is the personal intervention of the Minister for Roads, Eric Roozendaal, not only to ensure that Reverend Tan is given a licence in his real name, but also to ensure no other citizens of this State are subjected to this type of bureaucratic intransigence in the future.