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Wednesday, 28 May 1969


Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) - I am sorry to be so insistent about this matter, but the Minister has not grasped my point. Obviously her advisers are advising her on the question of right to Australian citizenship, not on the interpretation of the existing provision. I agree with all that the Minister says about the existing provision. 1 agree that there could be difficulty in deciding who is the father of a child born out of wedlock whereas it is easy to say who is the mother. My submission is that under the existing provision if the mother of a person born out of wedlock was not an Australian citizen and if the father of the child could be named, then, if the father was an Australian citizen the child has the right to Australian citizenship under paragraph (a) of sub-section (1.) of section 1 1 of the Act.


Senator Little - That is only one interpretation. That provision has not been changed. The question of a person born out of wedlock is dealt with under sub-section (2.), not sub-section (1 .).


Senator CAVANAGH - A person who does not qualify under sub-section (1.) is covered by sub-section (2.) which says that a person born outside Australia at the time of commencement of the Act shall be an Australian citizen by descent if at the time of birth the father was an Australian citizen. If a person born out of wedlock can establish that his father was an Australian citizen, he has the right to Australian citizenship and he also has the right to citizenship if his mother can establish Australian citizenship. The Minister says that although the present provision can be interpreted in this way, that is not what was intended and that the proposed new provision makes the position clear. I submit that the interpretation I have put forward is the correct one. I submit that under the existing legislation a child born out of wedlock has two opportunities of becoming an Australian citizen. Under the proposed new provision, he has only one such opportunity. Under the existing legislation, if he can establish who his father is, and if his father is an Australian citizen, he has the right to citizenship. Why should he not have that right? If I am right in my submission, the proposed new provision will place a restriction on those born out of wedlock. I submit that even though the existing legislation may appear to be somewhat ambiguous it does give the child born out of wedlock two opportunities of becoming an Australian citizen. However, it is obvious that I cannot convince the Minister. I can take the matter no further. I have recorded my protest. I think the whole question should be looked at. If I am wrong in my interpretation then I submit that the Department should look into the question whether there are any difficulties associated with giving citizenship to the child born out of wedlock where the child can establish who his father is, or was, and that his father is or was an Australian citizen.

Senator DameANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [10.26] - I can understand the point the honourable senator is making. In effect, he is saying that the child born out of wedlock should be able to obtain citizenship as a right, through his father. The honourable senator is supposing that it is practicable that when a child is born out of wedlock the father can be identified as a matter of law. The existing Act was so worded as to seem to suppose this also, but the supposition is quite incorrect and the amendment proposed in the Bill corrects the position.

Clauses agreed to.

Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken together.







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