A father who owes more than $117,000 in child maintenance was yesterday blocked from attending his brother’s wedding in India.
In Brisbane yesterday, Administrative Appeals Tribunal senior member Bernard McCabe rejected Frank Botel’s plea to overturn a Child Support Registrar decision of January 22 not to let him go while the massive debt hangs over his head.
The Registrar referred to several matters which, if true, might indicate Mr Botel was an unacceptable flight-risk.
Mr Botel insisted he was not a flight-risk, and still called Australia home. While acknowledging he has a French passport, he said most of his family live in Australia and he would not leave them behind.
In a written decision, Mr McCabe said he was not satisfied Mr Botel was unlikely to return to Australia within a reasonable timeframe.
“He appears to retain a strong connection with family members, most obviously his elderly mother, who almost all reside in Australia,” Mr McCabe noted.
“The applicant has a significant child support liability, and he was unable to explain how that liability would be discharged given his limited means.
“While his means are limited, it is unclear whether the whole amount of that liability would be completely irrecoverable.
Mr McCabe added that Mr Botel continues to make periodic payments, and he has indicated he has the capacity to make a lump-sum payment, albeit not for the full amount of the debt, out of funds provided by family members.
Mr Botel offered $15,000 to be paid by his mother as security that he would return.
But the Registrar said a payment in that amount was not appropriate security.
“I agree with the Registrar,” Mr McCabe concluded.
“Mr Botel’s child support liability currently exceeds $117,000.
“He says he is taking steps to challenge that assessment, although that process has taken longer than he hoped because of limited resources and mental health issues.
“Unless and until he successfully challenges the assessment, it must be accepted he continues to owe a significant amount, and that amount is growing.