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Why is Australia discriminating against its own PNG-born citizens?

Need a passportGUS LEE

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:

Verification checks

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.


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Arthur Williams

My daughter's father-in-law is of mixed Chinese/Ambonese PNG descent. He served in Oz Navy in late 60s. Nearing I-Day he was apparently offered chance to emigrate to Australia or remain PNG. He chose the latter.

During my time in Baimuru we got friendly with two orphaned mixed race kids about 10 and 12. Their Oz dad's estate was in very lax control of Public Curator.

Because of his service in military they were offered schooling down south but their grandparents and uncle wouldn't allow that to happen.

They were allowed into the Steamships store where, when I arrived, they could book up anything they wanted. At the end of the month I would send the invoices to the Curator and he would send me a cheque.

Some months the amount was far too high and I queried his allowing any amount to be settled. He eventually wrote back telling me there was a very sensible limit that was much lower than the average they had been allowed over past few years. We then tried to adhere to that.

The kids often stayed overnight with us as they got friendly with my two daughters. My wife and I offered to adopt them but Uncle & grand-parents wouldn't hear of it.

Often wonder what happened to them. Did have one or two letters from them when I was up in Tari but that was last I heard of them.

Anne Peters

There is nothing new about this. I was born in Kavieng New Ireland in 1952. That meant that I was officially a "British Protected Person". In 1954, after my brother was born, we were registered (by our parents) as Australians under the Commonwealth of Australia Nationality and Citizenship Act (1948-1960).

I have always needed this registration certificate to prove I am an Australian. I needed it for school (1964-1969), for Teachers College (1970-1972)and for all the Australian passports I have held. So this is nothing new.

If you were born in PNG before 1975, and did not obtain a Nationality and Citizenship certificate, you may well encounter some issues with the Australian government.

This can apply to anyone who was born elsewhere. My father was born in New Zealand in 1924, because his father had a job over there. At three years of age he moved back to Australia with his parents (who were both Australians).

Dad served in the Australian Navy from 1939-1945. He obtained and used an Australian passport a number of times from 1982, when he moved to Australia from PNG. In his late seventies, the Govt refused to give him a passport because he could not "prove" he was an Australian.

Fortunately, when he met with the Immigration Department, he was interviewed by a man who quickly over-ruled the decision, and Dad received his passport. This would have occurred in the first couple of years in the 2000s.

Luis de Leon

Just wondering, are these pre-1975 born predominantly black? No offense intended, I lived in PNG around 1980 and wondering if the indigenous PNG enjoyed same citizenship status then.

John Rosser

I know this is nothing new having had to argue with Immigration people for years, including seeking help from Wayne Swan who was my local MP in Queensland. No help received.

Same thing happened with electoral mob.

Last time sought help from Warren Entsch, or however his name is spelled, waste of time.

I was born in Moresby in 1951 and my father was born there in 921. He served in World War II in the Royal Australian Air Force. But that didn’t count.

My experience is that both Labor and Liberal governments have been treating people like us as stateless individuals for years.

Geoff Hancock

Anyone who has had dealings with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in recent years would know that they don't need to explain anything.

Now that Dutton has been given the flick i wouldn't hold my breath that things will change under the new Minister, David Coleman.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Peter Dutton has obviously taken a leaf from his idol in America and joined the 'Birther' conspiracy.

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