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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1051

Senator Gareth Evans —On 7 June 1984 (Hansard, page 2757) Senator Lewis asked me , as Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the following question without notice:

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs. I refer to a media report that Miss Patricia Rankin, the daughter of the late Lieutenant-Commander Rankin, Royal Australian Navy, who was killed in action as commanding officer, HMAS Yarra, while defending a convoy against an overwhelmingly superior Japanese cruiser force in 1942, is stranded in Canada because Australian authorities refused to renew her passport on the ground that Miss Rankin, apparently a direct descendant of a First Fleeter, was born in England while her father was serving on exchange with the Royal Navy in the early part of World War II. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that some petty bureaucrat made the extraordinarily insensitive remark:

It could be that with her British birth-and if her parents didn't register her properly in Australia-

They were therefore very naughty-

this lady should never have been issued with an Australian passport in the first place.

Secondly, is it not a fact that in any event that statement is not correct in that a British subject resident in Australia prior to 26 January 1944 is automatically an Australian citizen under section 25D of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948-73 transitional provisions. Will the Minister undertake to investigate the matter, ensure that Departmental officers are fully conversant with the Act and expedite the issue of a new Australian passport to Miss Rankin? Will the Minister also undertake the necessary action to establish what action, if any, Departmental officers have taken to assist Miss Rankin to establish her bona fides as an Australian citizen?

The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The comments attributed to the Department's spokesman are correct in respect of the issue of a passport to a person born outside Australia before 26 January 1949 of a father who was born or naturalised in Australia and who entered Australia as a British subject. While such a person may acquire Australian citizenship on the date of entry to Australia, documentary evidence of that citizenship is required for the issue of a passport. In the absence of such evidence, a passport should not be issued.

An Australian passport issued after 26 January 1949 which describes the national status of the bearer as an Australian citizen is generally accepted as evidence of Australian citizenship. However, as part of the control measures introduced to improve Australia's passport issuing system in response to recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking, applicants applying for a passport after 1 July 1983 may be asked to produce other documentary evidence of Australian citizenship. This may take the form of a birth certificate if the applicant was born in Australia or a Certificate of Citizenship or Declaratory Certificate of Citizenship if the applicant was born outside Australia.

On 25 may 1984, Miss Rankin applied to the Australian Consulate-General, Vancouver, for a replacement passport. She submitted her then current passport as evidence of Australian citizenship. Miss Rankin was interviewed by the Consul who explained that documentary evidence of her Australian citizenship additional to her passport would be required. The Consul advised Miss Rankin on how to complete an application for a Declaratory Certificate of Citizenship and assured her that she would be issued with a restricted passport if it was necessary for her to travel before confirmation of her citizenship was received from Canberra.

The application was returned to the Consulate-General on 29 May and was despatched to Canberra in the next diplomatic bag which left Vancouver on 1 June . A telegram was despatched on the same day alerting the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs to the despatch of Miss Rankin's application and requesting an urgent decision by telegram.

On 12 June, the Consulate-General was advised by telegram that Miss Rankin may be accepted as an Australian citizen under Section 25 (3) of the Australian Citizenship Act. A passport was issued to her on 22 June 1984.

I am satisfied that Miss Rankin was given every assistance necessary to confirm her Australian citizenship and to obtain a replacement passport.


Senator Gareth Evans —On 15 June 1984 (Hansard, page 3137) Senator Haines asked me, as Minister representing the Special Minister of State, the following question without notice:

Given that many members and senators are, or will be, visiting foreign countries in the coming months and therefore could find themselves in potentially hostile situations, I draw the Attorney-General's attention to an excerpt from the South Australian Country Hospitals 'Emergency Manual' with regard to the behaviour of hostages. It is headed:

Hold up-Immediate Action

The manual makes the following recommendations:

If confronted, remain calm and obey their instructions . . .

If a female staff member is taken hostage, she should pretend to faint.

Does the Attorney-General believe that either or both of these instructions is appropriate behaviour in all circumstances? In particular, could he comment on whether, if given the choice, male hostages as well as female hostages should elect to faint rather then obey?

The Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

Firstly, I would like to remind the honourable senator that the extract concerned was from a State emergency manual dealing with a local hostage contingency and was not perhaps intended to be construed as advice to federal politicians travelling overseas.

I have, however, consulted with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) on the matter and they have informed me that the advice to hostages to remain calm and obey instructions has proved sound in many circumstances and it is therefore appropriate behaviour.

As to the advice concerned with the option of fainting if taken hostage, it is obviously up to the individual to assess his/her particular situation and to be alert to all options and their possible consequences before deciding on taking ' appropriate' action.

Should the senator have a genuine concern in regard to a specific overseas trip she can approach the AFP for further advice.


Senator Ryan —On 24 August 1984 (Hansard, page 362) Senator Martin asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment, the following question without notice:

Does the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs and Environment recall the Australian Labor Party policy prior to coming to government in relation to the Australian National Gallery? Does the Minister recall promising the abolition of the entrance fee without financial penalty to the Gallery? Why has the government in contrast pursued policies in the 1983-84 budget which have seen a dramatic reduction in the National Gallery's funding so that its allocation for 1984-85 is only three-quarters of the real value of its allocation in the Fraser Government's 1982 Budget? In particular, why has the Government reduced the acquisition vote by 14 per cent for this financial year? What effect will this decision have on the Gallery's acquisition program and on the bicentenary collection? Has the Government been advised that its actions could lead to further loss of senior Gallery personnel? How can she say that the Gallery is flourishing when not only is Government funding cut this year but also, according to its estimates, non-government income will reduce by 15 per cent?

The Minister for Home Affairs and Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Government reviewed admission fees to the National Gallery as part of its 1983-84 Budget deliberations and decided to retain them because of the contribution that these charges are making to building up the Gallery's collection, particularly in view of the coming Bicentenary.

The payment of an entry charge is not inconsistent with the practice of some art galleries in Australia and many overseas, but pensioners, children, full time students, and others are exempted from the charges. Approximately 60 per cent of visitors are admitted free of charge.

Net revenue from admission charges has been used exclusively to purchase items for the Australian collection. Since the Gallery opened to the public on 13 October 1982, more than $750,000 from this source has been spent on the acquisition of such works of art and these acquisitions have included such significant purchases as the Fred Williams gouaches and a large number of works by Australian Aboriginal artists. Acquisitions funded from admission charges are labelled accordingly so that the public can see what is being funded.

In regard to comparison of funding for the Gallery in the 1982-83 budget, the honourable senator will appreciate that there were special needs associated with the opening of the Gallery in 1982 and there is no real basis for comparison. The appropriation of $3.1m for acquisitions in 1984-85 is reasonable in view of prevailing financial restraints and represents a significant contribution to building up the Gallery's collection.

I am advised that as far as the Gallery is aware there have been no resignations which can be attributed to the reduction in the acquisitions vote. The Gallery is a national institution which provides unique opportunities for both curatorial and administrative staff to gain experience which is not available elsewhere. The nature of the national collection is such that expertise gained at the Gallery at both senior and junior levels is in high demand by other art museums in Australia. The fact that the Art Gallery of South Australia approached Mr Thomas for the position of Director is considered to be a great compliment to the Australian National Gallery.

As regards the estimated reduction in non-government receipts as shown in the Budget papers, it should be appreciated that the highly successful Founding Donor Campaign which commenced in February 1983 was an initiative which raised a substantial endowment for the purchase of Australian and international works of art for the National collection, but this source of non-government revenue closed in June 1984.

In general, funding for acquisitions is seen as a partnership between government, the private corporate sector and private individuals and every endeavour will be made to ensure that non-government support of the National Gallery is maintained.