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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2758

Senator LEWIS —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?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I have been advised by the Minister for Foreign Affairs that he has already asked his Department urgently to look into the matter with the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and the Australian Consulate in Vancouver. Hopefully, I will be in a position to advise the honourable senator of the outcome of that inquiry very soon.