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Monday, 22 June 2009
Page: 6792

Mr ROBB (9:40 PM) —I rise tonight to speak on behalf of Mr Roger Allan in regard to a legislative oversight in section 16(3) of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. In 1922, Roger’s father, Mr Peter Allan, was born in Melbourne marking the fourth generation of his Australian born family. During World War II Peter served in the Royal Australian Air Force. In 1944 in Cairo this young Australian pilot met Barbara, an English nurse. Later that year Peter and Barbara married and by early 1945 they were expecting their first child. Tragically, however, on 19 April 1945, in the concluding days of the war, Peter’s plane was shot down in a battle over Italy and he was killed—it was five months prior to the birth of his son, Roger. Barbara returned to the United Kingdom to be closer to her own family and there on 29 September 1945 Roger was born.

Now, at the age of 64, Roger is seeking to become an Australian citizen, but due to the unyielding nature of the current act he is prevented from doing so. Prior to 26 January 1949 Australian citizens did not exist as such. Those who lived in Australia, even those who had been born in Australia, were considered to be British subjects. It was only from 26 January 1949, following the establishment of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, that British subjects living in Australia were considered to be Australian citizens.

As Peter was killed in action defending Australia almost four years prior to this date he was never considered to be an Australian citizen. He remained a British subject despite being born in Australia and serving in the Royal Australian Air Force. Recently the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 was updated to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, but even under the revised legislation Peter remains a British subject. Section 16(3) of the current act states that a person born outside Australia before 26 January 1949 is eligible to become an Australian citizen by descent if:

(a)   a parent of the person became an Australian citizen on 26 January 1949; and

(b)   the parent was born in Australia or New Guinea or was naturalised in Australia before the person’s birth; and

(c)   if the person is or has ever been a national or a citizen of any country, or if article 1(2)(iii) of the Stateless Persons Convention applies to the person—the Minister is satisfied that the person is of good character at the time of the Minister’s decision on the application.

Peter was born in Australia as were three previous Allan family generations. But, as Peter was not alive on 26 January 1949, under the act Roger is therefore not eligible to apply for citizenship by descent.

Roger’s circumstances seem beyond exceptional. Not only was Roger’s father born in Australia but so too was his grandfather, his great-grandfather, his great-great-grandfather and great-great-great-grandfather. Furthermore, Roger’s father served in the Royal Australian Air Force and died defending Australia. It is because of men such as Peter that we have the opportunity to live in this free and democratic country. Yet it seems that due to a legislative oversight the son of a man who gave his life for our freedom and democracy is not eligible to be part of his Australian family.

Roger currently lives in the United Kingdom with his wife and two children. His mother, Barbara, has passed away. To Roger, family is everything and his remaining extended family all live here in Australia, many in my electorate of Goldstein. Roger would like the opportunity to be with his family here in Australia, the country his father died for.

In the eyes of all of us here in the House we would view Roger’s claim for citizenship not only as legitimate but with deep concern that the matter has come this far. Senator Evans, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, stated that he was:

… unable to intervene in Mr Allan’s case as the act provides no scope to do so.

That is simply not good enough. Today I call on the Australian government to consider Roger’s exceptional circumstances and urge the review of his application for Australian citizenship. I also strongly appeal to Minister Evans to amend the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 so that the children of British subjects who were not alive on 26 January 1949 are eligible for citizenship by descent. Mr Peter Allan was one amongst many who fought to make Australia what it is today. It seems only right his son be granted citizenship.