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Media Release

Papuans protests over Aussies
Interview with Trevor Jackie Tim
Review of Acts queried
Aust visa query
Citizen Act Changes
Citizenship Act Reforms

Group protests over Aussies

Post Courier Monday October 4, 2004, Page 2

PORT MORESBY: A GROUP of Papuans demanding Australian citizenship staged a sit-in at the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby last Friday.

NCD/Central Police Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of Police Tony Wagambi told the Post Courier yesterday more than 10 people who staged the sit-in at the High Commission's chancery peacefully left the area after a successful address by High Commisioner Michael Potts.

Group spokesman Jonathan Baure said they were representing people born in the Australian territory of Papua before Papua New Guinea's independence in 1975.

They claimed they have been denied their rights to Australian citizenship since PBG's independence when they claim their citizenship was illegally revoked.

The protesters presented a petition to Australian High Commission staff and claimed to be seeking asylum in the High Commission grounds.

"Myself and 12 others are inside the building and are seeking asylum," Mr Baure said.

"We will not move, we'll even sleep here if we have to."

Mr Potts addressed the protesters and the Australian High Commission was closed to the public after the protesters entered the grounds.

Police showed up after 3pm on Friday and also spoke to them.

Prior to Papua New Guinea Independence Day on September 16 1975, Papua was a Territory of Australia.

People born in Papua prior to Independence Day acquired Australian citizenship by birth.

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Interview with Trevor Jackie Tim BBM 98.7FM

Hi .......first of all congratulations! terrific website...........My name is Jacqueline Tim (Carven)... I host the "PNG Program" here in Cairns via the indigenous media - radio station BBM 98.7fm. our program has been on air for 5 years .........is a 4 hour program.

Our family moved to cairns 27 years ago, and my elderly father who is now 77 years old, constantly talks about this subject and has spoken about it for years.

I would love to know if I could please interview someone for our program, I'm not too sure if you know much about our program, but it actually would be the hottest program in Oz. If know one is available to go on air , maybe if you could keep us updated with info? As you are probably aware Cairns has the majority of Png's living here (3,000 and rising!) our program is not just supported by Png's/expats, we have a huge following with a wider broad range of audience tuning in every sundays for 4pm - 8pm........

Anyway, full support to you folks from the "Png Crew at BBM 98.7fm" and hope to hear from you folks..........

Kindest regards, Jackie

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Review of Acts queried

Post Courier, July 30, 2004. Page 2

THE review of the Passport Act, Citizenship Act and the Migration Act is close to completion, says PNG Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu.

Sir Rabbie made this known yesterday (Thursday July 29, 2004) during question time when New Ireland Governor Ian Ling-Stuckey raised concerns about the length of time it was taking to get the review completed.

Sir Rabbie said he would be presenting the first submissions on the Migration Act to Cabinet by next month. Sir Rabbie said next month, he and Justice Minister Mark Maipakai would be taken through the final proposals by steering committee who will take into account their comments and prepare a draft submission that would be taken to the Central agencies Co-ordinating Committee (CACC) and then to Cabinet.

Sir Rabbie said once approved by Cabinet, drafting instructions would be issued and a draft Bill will be presented to Parliament.

He said two additional bills would be on the question of refugees with close consultation with UNHCR, and on the question of human smuggling and would be ready by the end of the year.

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Aust visa query

Post Courier July 9, 2004. Page 2

REQUIREMENTS for Australia visas by Papua New Guineans despite being a former colony and a member of the Commonwealth caused heated exchange in Parliament yesterday.

Morobe Governor Luther Wenge raised the issue during Question Time expressing heated concerns about this requirement when some Commonwealth countries have waived the need to have visas before arrivals by member countries.

Mr Wenge dressed the argument up with references to being a former colony and the fact that PNG citizens travelled to faraway countries without visas when Australia - a friend - and a neighbour required all sorts of visas.

Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu, who recently concluded the securing of the K2 billion Exchanged-Co-operation Programs package and aware of the K700 million development co-operation program from Austrlaia, hit back at Mr Wenge.

Sir Rabbie queried how Mr Wenge could challenge the friendship when he recently was thanking Australia for upgrading and sealing of roads in Morobe. That provoked a point of order in defence of Mr Wenge and a specific call to address the Australia visas issue specifically.

Sir Rabbie said he could take this up but it needs to be understood that issues of travel documents were governed by bilateral relations and not multilateral arrangements like that enjoyed as a member of the Commonwealth.

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Citizen Act Change

Australian Federal Government proposal
Source: Post Courier, July 9, 2004, Page 8

Becoming a born-again Australian will be easier under changes to the Citizenship Act proposed by the Federal Government.

Under the changes, people would be eligible to regain Australian citizenship when they became citizens of another country , provided they were of good character.

Children born overseas to former citizens also would be eligible to become Australians.

It would also become easier for spouses of Australians who spent much of their time overseas work purposes to become Australian citizens.

Citizenship Minister Gary Hardgrave told the Sydney Institute the changes wolud bring the 55-year-old Citizenship Act in line with the reality of modern Australia.

"The changes will also mean removal of the age limits for registration of citizenship by decent and give children of former Australian citizens access to their Australian heritage."

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Australian Citizenship Act Reforms

Media Release H128/2004 - 7 July 2004

The Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Mr Gary Hardgrave today outlined changes to the 55-year-old Australian Citizenship Act to bring it into line with the reality of modern Australia. 'Australian Citizenship law and policy has changed over time, in line with our diverse population and society, to remove discriminatory provisions and unnecessary barriers,' Mr Hardgrave said.

'Following the Government's repeal of section 17 to allow dual citizenship, there is still work to be done and the changes to the Citizenship Act I am highlighting today will go a long way to ensuring that the Act reflects the needs of all Australians in today's global environment.

'These further commonsense changes will benefit people who wish to resume their Australian Citizenship and regain access to their Australian heritage. 'The changes will also mean removal of the age limits for registration of citizenship by descent and give children of former Australian Citizens access to their Australian heritage.

'Australian Citizenship is the cornerstone of our society and the bond which unites us as a nation. It is the pathway to membership and full participation in the Australian family.

'One way to help protect Australia in these uncertain times, is through a coherent set of national values, the unifying effect of the common bond of Australian Citizenship and a focus on building a shared future in which we all have a stake. 'I am confident that Australian Citizenship will continue to play a critical role in maintaining Australia's success as a culturally diverse, strong and independent nation with clearly defined national values,' Mr Hardgrave said.

More detailed information regarding the changes to the Australian Citizenship Act can be found on the following Fact Sheet. The full transcript of the speech can be found at : Minister's speech Proposed changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 - Fact Sheet Resumption

The only criterion for resumption of Australian citizenship by people who lost their Australian citizenship when they acquired another country's citizenship will be that the person be of good character.

Former Australian citizens who renounced their Australian citizenship to acquire or retain another citizenship, or renounced to avoid significant hardship or disadvantage will also be given the opportunity to resume their Australian citizenship, if they are of good character.

Children of former Australian citizens

The Act will be amended to provide for grant of citizenship to a person of good character and over the age of 18 years who was born overseas after their parent lost citizenship under the former section 17. Descent

The provisions in the Act for the registration of citizenship by descent will be amended. The only requirements that will apply to a person seeking registration as an Australian citizen by descent are that:

  • at least one of the parents was an Australian citizen at the time of the person's birth
  • the person is of good character if 18 years or over, and
  • if a parent of the applicant acquired Australian citizenship by descent that parent must have spent a total of two years in Australia as a lawful resident.

The Act will be amended to extend the registration of Australian citizenship by descent for people born overseas before 26 January 1949 to a mother who became an Australian citizen on commencement of the Act on 26 January 1949.

English proficiency

The age at which adult applicants for Australian citizenship are exempt from the requirement to have a basic knowledge of English will be raised to 60 years, to align it with the age at which applicants are exempt from the requirement to have an adequate knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.

Spouse

The changes to the Act will require the spouse of an Australian citizen to meet the same criteria as other adult applicants for grant of citizenship.

A spouse specific residence discretion will be introduced, to waive part or all of the residence requirements, based on a demonstrable close and continuing association with Australia.

A definition of 'spouse' will be introduced to include a de facto spouse where the applicant was granted permanent residence as the de facto spouse of their current partner.

Residence Discretions

The equity and integrity of the residence discretions will be improved by:
  • requiring applicants who, following the acquisition of their permanent residence, have been engaged in activities overseas which are considered beneficial to the interests of Australia, to have been present in Australia for a total of twelve months prior to their application for citizenship
  • introducing a discretion to allow for periods spent overseas involved in activities beneficial to the interests of Australia, following the acquisition of permanent residence, to be treated as time spent in Australia if the applicant would suffer significant hardship or disadvantage if citizenship were not granted
  • introducing a discretion to allow for a total of twelve months spent in Australia as a lawful temporary resident prior to application to be counted as permanent residence if the applicant was involved in activities beneficial to the interests of Australia during that period; and
  • removing the policy requirement for twelve months' permanent residence prior to applications, for applicants who would suffer significant hardship or disadvantage if their periods of lawful residence other than as a permanent resident were not counted as permanent residence.

Media contact: Anthony Moate 0402 415 167 Minister's Media Release Index

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