PORT MORESBY - On 23 July this year, journalist Geoffrey Luck published an article in PNG Attitude entitled ‘The mysterious Citizenship PNG Unit is on the prowl’.
It told of how his daughter, born in Port Moresby in 1958 while luck was working in Papua New Guinea, had applied to renew her Australian passport six months ahead of its expiry date.
But, to her surprise, her current perfectly valid passport was immediately defaced by clipping the pages and she was told that, before a new passport could be issued, she had to prove her Australian citizenship.
The documentation required included her birth certificate, her mother and father's birth certificates, their marriage certificate and details of their parents' place of birth.
She objected that this was merely the renewal of an Australian passport which had been issued at least three times previously without question. Her objection was brushed aside without explanation.
“As you may imagine, this caused an initial panic,” Luck wrote, “as it was made clear that without the required documents, nothing would proceed.”
Luck’s daughter had run into a high hurdle for proving Australian citizenship of anyone born in Papua New Guinea before September 1975.
In the passport renewal application form there is this note:
It seems to me that, until this note is deleted, anyone born in PNG before September 1975 can be asked for verification papers.
I believe the Department of Immigration and Border Protection need to explain why these verification checks are necessary.
And why are these checks done only when someone is renewing their passport? Usually, if you need to verify a document, it is because it is inaccurate or fraudulent or the original paper copy has been lost.