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Thursday, 10 May 1973
Page: 2016

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I want to associate myself very sincerely with the remarks of the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair) and I hope that even at this late stage the Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) may be a little inclined to reconsider his position.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.

Mr WENTWORTH - I speak briefly but very strongly in support of the 2 principles in the amendment moved by the honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair). Those 2 principles relate, firstly, to the renunciation of other allegiance by the new citizen, and, secondly, to the inclusion of the name of the Queen in the oath of allegiance which he has to take. I will deal with those 2 points. Firstly, I believe that there is merit in a positive renunciation.

I remember in days gone by that this ceremony was rather different. The new citizen was then called upon to renounce his old allegiance and then to stand stateless for a moment until he was accepted as a citizen. I felt that this was unnecessarily dramatic and might have been an occasion of tension. So we altered it to the one sentence: 'I, renouncing all other allegiance, do now swear . . . ' and so on. The renunciation is important because Australia does not relish this concept of dual citizenship.

The Minister for Immigration (Mr Grassby) said that renunciation had no legal effect. This may or may not be true because its legal effect may depend upon the laws of other countries which are not made in this Parliament and which could be changed by other countries. No doubt in our negotiations with other countries to remove the concept, and sometimes the burden, of dual citizenship from those who take Australian nationality we will be putting this point and I hope that in the negotiations the Minister, who should have learned a lesson from the tragic events in Yugoslavia, will put this point strongly and it will help him in those negotiations if he can say that Australian citizens have personally renounced. This is important because some people regard their dual nationality as an advantage, and some regard it as a burden. We have to distinguish between them. But how can we distinguish between the individuals unless they have made their act of renunciation? Otherwise their country of origin, whose law we do not make here, could say in regard to any individual: 'What evidence have you that he meant to renounce?'

I agree with the Minister's statement that we should be endeavouring to get rid of this burden of dual citizenship for those Australian citizens who do not wish to maintain it, and to include in the form of the ceremony the formal renunciation may strengthen his hand in any negotiations. Again I say to him: Considering what has happened in respect not only of the humiliation that Australian citizens have undergone but also at their death in their countries of origin, anything that strengthens our hand in negotiation is worth having. I hope that the Government will be firm on matters like this in negotiations with Yugoslavia. Let us adopt the suggestion of the honourable member for New England and help the Government do what it should be doing.

My second point concerns whether the Queen's name should be included in the declaration of allegiance. I know how the new citizens in my own electorate very often treasure the portrait of the Queen which is given to them, and how they are grateful for the fact that as Australians they are included in a Commonwealth of Nations which still has some meaning. I say with some regret that the Government in the few short months that it has been in office seems to be deliberately trying to break down the links between Australia and Great Britain. This is not a question of maintaining Australian nationality. I am a nationalistic Australian in this sense, as I believe are all honourable members on this side of the House. But it may be to Australia's advantage in the future to maintain these links. In war in 1914 and again in 1939 we put our force behind what was Great Britain's quarrel, but it was a just quarrel. We have paid. Surely having paid, we do not want to forego a possible repayment. It may sound dramatic but I put it forward as something which is very serious.

In this corner of the globe we could be isolated. We are surrounded by countries with which we hope to be friendly but on whose friendship we cannot entirely rely. It may be in the interests of Australia's survival not to forgo our own concept of nationality but to maintain the links which will give us defence protection, evidence of which in the eyes of the world may protect us from attack, because these outward signs may give to countries which might have aggressive intentions against us the lively apprehension that we would have powerful friends, powerful kinsmen, to come to our aid. Let me say finally and in a single sentence something very simple. If one has defences one can do without powerful friends; if one has powerful friends one may well be able to do without defences. But one cannot do without both. I do not believe that even in a small matter like this - it is a symbolic matter and perhaps many people would say it is not small - our policy should be directed to the real security of the Australian nation in circumstances which may not be entirely safe or entirely secure. I ask the Minister even at this late stage to consider the merits of the amendment which have been put forward by the honourable member for New England, and either accept it now or give an assurance that in the Senate it will be given some consideration by the Government.

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