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Wednesday, 20 April 1966

Mr BOWEN (Parramatta) .- I wish to make a few remarks this evening about clause 11 of the Bill. This is the clause which alters the form of the oath of allegiance to be taken in a naturalisation ceremony. As has been mentioned by previous speakers, the present practice is for someone seeking naturalisation to make a statement of renunciation first and then to take the oath of allegiance. Under the provision in the Bill it will no longer be necessary for a person to make the statement of renunciation; instead, the words of renunciation are included in the oath of allegiance which will now read -

I, . . . , renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her Heirs and Successors according to law.

We have all attended naturalisation ceremonies in our own electorates and where they have been well conducted we have seen that they can be quite memorable occasions - certainly for the people who are becoming naturalised. In those ceremonies where it is made clear, as in my experience it generally is, that in making this renunciation people are not in any way renouncing the love of their mother country or any connection with it, but only severing a legal link involving rights and obligations to the government of the old country, most of them understand the position.

I find myself in the same position as the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Irwin) who has not heard any complaints and who has attended quite a great number of naturalisation ceremonies. However, it is my belief that the proposed amendment by which the renunciation will be included in the oath will be a more logical form and will be acceptable to migrants who are required to take the oath of naturalisation. One could hardly object on taking an oath of allegiance to renouncing other allegiances, so there is not a conflict. There are some who believe that the renunciation should be removed altogether and the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) has foreshadowed an amendment to omit the words of renunciation. I want to say a few words about that.

I shall oppose the amendment. When a migrant comes to be naturalised at a ceremony he generally has another nation ality. There are, of course, exceptions to this in the case of Stateless persons, but these, although an aftermath of the last war, are a decreasing body of people. The migrant has another nationality and it is worth, perhaps, spending a few minutes to look at what this involves. Nationality is the legal link between a citizen and the Crown or the Government of his own state and it involves mainly three things. First, he has the right to the protection of tha state whether he is in the country or abroad. If he is abroad he can go to his country's consulate or embassy for protection. Secondly, he is liable as a national of a country to the operation of its laws whether he is in the country itself or is abroad. Normally the laws of this country would not operate as far as people abroad are concerned, but they may so operate in respect of Australian nationals abroad. A person is liable to obey the laws of the country of which he is a national Thirdly, a person is liable to be called up for military service by the state of which he is a national.

It is obvious that it must be in the interests of a person not to have dual nationality. If a person is under an obligation to obey the laws of two states and under an obligation to be called up for national service by two states, a very grave conflict could arise in some circumstances. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a situation could arise where to perform his obligation to one state would involve treason to the other state. So it is in the interests of a person that he should make an election and have, not a dual nationality, but one nationality. It is true, as the honorable member for Grayndler h3s said, that many countries do not recognise a renunciation in Australia as ending the original nationality. This applies particularly to countries which can be described as Iron Curtain countries. With the exception of Greece, the countries that the honorable member mentioned fall into that category. Spain would perhaps be another country that recognises dual nationality and does not recognise a severance of nationality as a result of the mere fact of renunciation or of acquisition of another nationality. These countries recognise the renunciation only if it is made in accordance with their own laws and requirements.

On the other hand, some countries do recognise the principle of renunciation. It is rather to take care of the position that applies to migrants from these countries that it is important to maintain this provision in the legislation. Perhaps one should emphasise here that the loss of the nationality of the mother country does not principally depend upon what we do here; it depends principally upon the laws of the mother country. For example, at one time - I do noi know what the current position is - France would not recognise a loss of nationality by a Frenchman who gained nationality in another country and renounced that of his own country, unless he was of the age of 31 years - 31, not 21 years of age. The French law operated as far as that Frenchman was concerned if he returned to France or came in any way under French control. The point 1 am making is that the loss of the old nationality depends upon the laws of the old country from which a person comes. There are countries which do not recognise the act of renunciation, just as there are others which do. It is true that some of these countries which do recognise the loss of nationality would recognise it even if there were a mere acquisition of an opposed nationality without renunciation. We might say therefore that in the case of those countries it is not particularly material whether or not we have a renunciation clause. However, there are a few countries which do attach significance to the formality and solemnity of the procedure under which this renunciation of the old nationality is made. An alternative way of dealing with the position would be to provide an option in the Act so that migrants who wish to adopt Australian nationality and to divest themselves of the legal obligation involved in their old nationality could elect to make a renunciation. This, however, would involve a good deal of administrative difficulty in explaining to them why they were subject to a procedure different from the ordinary procedure. 1 support the Government's action in simplifying the procedure for naturalisation and including the renunciation provision in the oath of allegiance. As a result, migrants from countries whose laws take account of this fact will have their legal link with those countries broken, as it should be, and the psychological effect of this on others will not be detrimental. I therefore support the Bill and oppose the amendment that has been foreshadowed.

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