Mark Grobsby, an Australian civil servant who has lived his entire life in suburban Canberra, is pretty excited to be hitting the town after another week at the proverbial coalface. Not an actual coalface, of course – he’s never actually worked a genuinely hard day in his entire life. In fact, his job is to make life-changing decisions for the people who do menial labour in one of the most punishing environments on planet Earth. That is, regional 417 visa workers in outback Queensland.
“Basically, what I do is look at people’s cases randomly and try to find the most petty reason to fuck them over,” he told The Tragic Traveller. “I hate my job and my life, so I take it out on idealistic 20-year-old Europeans.”
Grobsby’s main responsibility is going through the cases of those applying for 417 visa extensions – which requires 88 days of manual labour in regional Australia. The criteria is so insanely strict that Grobsby doesn’t need to look far for reasons to reject people. And he rejects people pretty often.
“One girl had done her 88 days, but her employer had underpaid her on purpose,” he said, referring to the rule that for a visa extension, workers must make minimum wage. “So, naturally, I sent that fucker back to Hungary where she belongs. Farmer probably still does it, but who gives a shit.”
Magda – who spent her entire time digging sweet potatoes while her 62-year-old farm manager made loud comments about her breasts – has now returned home after basically wasting four months of her life.
Another guy spent six months trying to eke out his days in Darwin’s mango industry between lack of work and money. It was my duty to scrutinise every single one and find a reason to make all his hard work worthless. Which I did.
Marcus, a 21-year-old Dutch visa worker, was bitten by snakes three times during his extension attempt. Grobsby once saw a snake in a zoo.
“Eventually I found out via satellite imaging that on one day he left work 33 minutes before he reported leaving,” continued Grobsby, “What kind of monster leaves work early when they’re working in rural Australia?”
Grobsby’s general ignorance of how jobs in regional Australia – or even the agricultural industry at large – work seems to stem from the fact that he doesn’t really care about either of those things.
“I had a nice private school upbringing, so I never needed to bother with working while I was on holiday. I’ve definitely never picked fruit. If these people really want to live in Australia, they should get a cushy job with infinite career security, like I did.”
“We have strict immigration rules for a reason: to justify the existence of weird civil servants who have power complexes.”
But the hour was getting late, and Grobsby indicated that it was pub o’clock.
“It’s exactly 4:55 pm on a Friday, so I’m just going to set the system to automatically reject anyone who submits between now and Monday,” he said while opening a Furphy. “I genuinely don’t give a fuck.”