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Thursday, 23 August 1973
Page: 361


Mr GRASSBY (Riverina Minister for Immigration) - I move:

That the Senate's amendment be disagreed to, but that, in place thereof, clause 19 of the Bill be omitted and the following clause substituted: -

19.   The Second and Third Schedule, to the Principal Act are repealed and the following Schedules substituted: -

Section 15

SCHEDULE 2

OATH OF ALLEGIANCE

I, A.B., swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.

AFFIRMATION OF ALLEGIANCE

I, A.B., solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen.

Section 26A

SCHEDULE 3

OATH OF ALLEGIANCE

I, A.B., swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law.

AFFIRMATION OF ALLEGIANCE

I, A.B., solemnly and sincerely promise and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law.

In moving this motion I should like to indicate why the Government does not accept the Senate amendment. The amendment retains the words 'renouncing all other allegiance'. In my second reading speech - I want to recall my words on that occasion on behalf of the Government - I said:

Renunciation has been a cause of great emotional misgivings amongst people who want to become Australians. It has served no legal purpose at all because loss or retention of former citizenship depends entirely on the law of the person's former homeland. A Greek citizen remains a Greek under Greek law, and an American ceases to be an American under American law, upon their becoming Australian, quite irrespective of whether they say at our citizenship ceremonies that they renounce Greek or American citizenship. And so I put it to the House that it is both the humane and sane course to drop these distressing and ineffectual words about renunciation.

During the debate on the Citizenship Bill in the Senate, my colleague the Minister for the Media (Senator Douglas McClelland) indicated that the Government was not opposed to promising a review of the oath of allegiance contained in the Citizenship Bill after the new Royal Style and Titles Bill had been introduced. Subsequently in a public statement on 7 June 1973, I confirmed this decision. True to its promise, the Government has decided to review the oath of allegiance.

The amendment by the Government is consonant with the change in the royal style and title provided for in the current amendment to the Royal Style and Titles Act on which this House has just voted unanimously. Importantly it will end the confusion in terminology and allegiance which has been permitted to continue since the Citizenship Act of 1949; and identify formally prospective citizens from other Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries with Australia. The omission of renunciation of other allegiance is maintained because, as I have already said, this has served no legal purpose and it could be equally distressing to citizens of the United Kingdom as well as to citizens of other countries from within the Commonwealth and without, all of whom will be required to take the oath or affirmation of allegiance.

In considering this amendment to the oath of ellegiance the Government, was mindful of public reaction to its first proposal to require prospective Australian citizens to swear to uphold the Constitution. It is interesting to note the results of a gallup poll conducted on 19 and 26 May 1973 by the Roy Morgan Research Centre. From the 9042 persons who responded the results were as follows: Overall 68 per cent were in favour of the change we had proposed, 22 per cent were opposed and 10 per cent undecided. The highest percentages in favour were recorded in New South Wales and Queensland. I am happy to say that the latter is my native State. Seventy per cent of city dwellers and 65 per cent of country dwellers were in favour of the change. In the younger age group up to 29 years 83 per cent and 76 per cent respectively favoured the change. Of Australian born 70 per cent-


Mr Malcolm Fraser - Mr Chairman, as there are only 3 members of the Government in the chamber I call your attention to the state of the House.


Mr CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes) - Order! I suggest to the honourable member that when he rises to call for a quorum he should do so and not make comments. (Quorum formed.)


Mr GRASSBY - I express my appreciation for the solicitude of the Opposition in making sure that proper attention is paid to this important measure. Seeing that the Opposition has taken the trouble to draw the attention of its repleted ranks to what we are discussing I think it worth my while to repeat the figures that I was quoting from the gallup poll conducted in 1973 relating to the Government's proposals to require prospective Australian citizens in future to actually stand up for Australia. I will quote the figures again in case some honourable members missed them. I was just about to say that in the younger age groups up to 29 years of age, 83 per cent of the people polled were in favour of swearing allegiance to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. Seventy per cent of Australian-born and 70 per cent of post-war non-British migrants were in favour and the majority of post-war British migrants were also in favour of the change.

While the Government believes it has support among the community for the form of the oath of allegiance to the Australian constitution put forward in the Citizenship Bill I have accepted the intent of the Senate amendment in the spirit of compromise, but let me say clearly that compromise further we will not. With the change in the royal style and tides giving specific expression to the Queen of Australia, the Government has in its amendment to the form of the oath of allegiance for grant of citizenship continued in an explicit manner to identify formally such change. With the passage of the Citizenship Bill through the Parliament the substantive provisions contained in clause 2 (3) of the

Citizenship Bill which include the proposed new oath of allegiance will come into operation on a date to be fixed by proclamation which will be after the Queen has proclaimed her Royal style and title in Australia. That is a courtesy which the Government had sought to accord the monarch, which the Senate did not.

I turn now to the short amendment proposed to clause 5 of the Bill. Territories dependant on the United Kingdom when this Bill was introduced included the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. With effect from 10 July 1973, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas achieved independence and became known as the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. As a consequence, its inclusion in the list of Commonwealth countries to which section 7 of the principal Act applies has had to be considered.


Mr Peacock - What point are you making?


Mr GRASSBY - I am making the point that we are happy to have recognised the independence of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.


Mr Peacock - That is all I wanted to know.


Mr GRASSBY - For once he is on the side of the angels instead of the men of yesterday.


Mr Armitage - He missed the division, you know.


Mr GRASSBY - I am sure he missed several. I do not blame him for missing that division.


The CHAIRMAN (Mr Scholes (CORIO, VICTORIA) - Order! I would suggest that the Minister return to the clause that is before the Committee.


Mr GRASSBY - I am very happy to help the honourable member for Kooyong (Mr Peacock). As I was saying when the honourable member awoke, as a consequence the inclusion of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas in the list of Commonwealth countries to which section 7 of the principal Act applies has had to be considered.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! I draw the Minister's attention to the fact that he has moved only the first amendment and he is now beating the second amendment.


Mr GRASSBY - No, I am not; I am just giving information to the Committee. You are quite right, Mr Chairman, but I just want to help the honourable member who has just awoken. I am just saying that the amendment seeks to update this list. To return to the matter before the Committee-


Mr Peacock - Who wrote this? You are showing no understanding at all. You are reading it all.


Mr GRASSBY - If the honourable member for Kooyong wishes to oppose the admission to the Commonwealth of Nations of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas I suggest that he move an amendment while he still can-


Mr Peacock - You know that is not my purpose.


Mr GRASSBY - Otherwise, I suggest that he go away and read it up.


Mr Peacock - I just seek your elucidation on your own understanding of this matter.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! I would suggest to honourable members that this debate take place with one speaker at a time addressing the Committee. I suggest to the honourable member for Kooyong that if he wishes to participate in the debate and if he rises when the Minister has concluded his speech, he can put those points of view which he wishes to put. But it is impossible for the Committee, and I suggest for Hansard, to follow 2 speakers, one from each side of the table, at the same time.


Mr Peacock - I respect your view, Mr Chairman, but it is rather difficult to discern the thrust of the Minister's argument, particularly when he is reading from such copious notes.


The CHAIRMAN - The Minister is in order in reading anything he wishes in this chamber. The Standing Orders were changed to give effect to that some years ago.


Mr Peacock - I appreciate the explanation but it reflects on the Minister's inability to conduct his portfolio.


The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honourable member for Kooyong will resume his seat; there is no substance in his point of order. (Quorum formed.)


Mr GRASSBY - I must say that this is a very unusual Bill to have unveiled the pretensions, of the honourable member for Kooyong to the leadership of the Opposition, but I am delighted that he unveiled himself tonight. Could we return to the measure that is before the Committee? It is a very important matter and I think that in view of the confusion of the Opposition and the need that it has for guidance, I should at least remind the Opposition of some of the facts of the situation associated with the measure which is before the Committee at present. I remind members of the Opposition that the Surveys Section of the Department of Immigration in the first half of 1971 carried out a survey of migrants which was the subject of a report to the Department and the then Minister for Immigration in the previous Government. I should like to quote from the report which was commissioned by the previous Government, for the previous Government and to the previous Government. I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to the following statement from the report:

.   . it was found to be difficult to explicitly renounce allegiance to one's country of birth which still held great emotional significance.

It was evident from the survey carried out for the previous Government in 1971 that the renunciation was accepted in the simple legal sense, to which there was no objection, but it seemed to be a renunciation of family ties, culture and background and therefore was totally unacceptable.

It was indicated in the 1971 survey that there was a need then to have a deliberate effort made by the Australian Government to invite people to take out citizenship and join the family of the nation in a more positive way. It was specifically reported in the survey that one of the major reasons for people who were eligible to apply not applying for citizenship - I again quote from the survey - was specific objections to the aspects or procedure of the ceremony such as the requirement that applicants for Australian citizenship should explicitly renounce all loyalty to their country of birth and swear allegiance to the English monarch'. So, we have clearly indicated the misunderstandings caused by the renunciation and the obvious unsuitability of such a phrase in our citizenship ceremonies.

We also know from that survey that there was confusion about the independence of Australia and the status of the Queen of Australia with a colonial status related to England. I hope that we in this Parliament know and appreciate the difference here, but it is evident that some members even now have not grasped the significance of Australian independence or the status of the Queen of Australia which the monarch has expressly said she is attached to and which she prefers as a title for use in this country.

On taking office as Minister for Immigration I established a committee on citizenship of the Immigration Advisory Council and I took this step to check on the position as revealed in the previous Government's survey of 1971. 1 was anxious to have the best advice possible on this question of the oath of allegiance. I should like honourable members to know who comprised the members of this committee on citizenship. They were Mr G. M. Hastie, Chairman, Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, D.B.E., Mr W. J. Henderson, Sir Arthur Lee, K.B.E., M.C., Mr W. M. Lippmann, M.B.E., Mr F. J.McAvoy C.B.E., Mr L. J. Mooney, Mr H. J. Souter, Mr R. E. Armstrong, O.B.E., Mr G. E. Hitchings, M.B.E., Mr I. D. Emerton, Mr H- J. Grant, Mr J. K. Champion, and Mr R. B. Haynes. The committee, therefore, was totally representative of the community. It was unanimous in its recommendation that the renunciation should go. The chairman of that committee pointed out that this was the view of the members of the Advisory Council as far back as 1963 and this had been ignored by the previous Administration for all the intervening years.

Against this background it is very difficult to see how the members of the Opposition can now, after all these years of unanimous advice and in view of the demonstrated views of the Australian people today, impose deliberately almost a hardship on the migrant community and those citizens who want to apply for Australian citizenship. If ever there was a need for confirmation of the need for reform, surely it is to be found in the fact that one million residents of Australia who are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship have declined to do so. This is a massive rebuff to us all. The previous Government was warned of some of the reasons for it. To persist in the attitudes of yesterday is to rebuff a million people and to affront the great majority of Australians today, old and new.

Let us have a look at other member countries of the Commonwealth of Nations. In a survey of 19 Commonwealth countries we find that 17 require an oath of allegiance and only 4 require renunciation. Let me tell the Committee the 4 that require renunciation. They are Australia, Western Samoa,

Ghana and Malaysia. Significantly, the United Kingdom and Canada are among the great majority that do not require an act of renunciation. Let us take a typical oath of allegiance of our brothers in the Commonwealth of Nations. This is India's oath or affirmation:

I, A. B., solemnly affirm - or 'swear' - that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and that I will faithfully observe the laws of India and fulfil my duties as a citizen of India.

So we have the position that every inquiry by this Government and the last Government agreed and recommended that the renunciation should be dropped. The latest recommendation was endorsed by the entire Immigration Advisory Council, of which Senator Gordon Davidson was for so long a distinguished chairman. Now it is suggested that the present Opposition should defy the expressed view of the majority of Australian citizens, ignore the distinguished representatives of so many organisations, including the Returned Services League, and take us back to the past and to a hurtful imposition which seems to be required by some either to deter people from joining the family of the nation because they do not want them or to impose hurt for hurt's sake. It is interesting how steadfast the recommendations for change have been. The Committee on naturalisation set up as long ago as 1963 - 10 years ago - recommended the same action as the committee which I set up in 1973. The then well remembered and revered member of the committee - I am proud to mention his name in the House of Represenatives tonight - Mr Olley Oberg, formally restated the committee's recommendations to the then Government. These were his words:

If the act of renunciation of former allegiance has no legal justification and serves no significant purpose, it should be abolished.

Finally as to the legality I quote the following from the considered opinion of the appropriate officers of the division of my Department which concerns itself with the legal matters associated with citizenship:

The effectiveness of the renunciation of former allegiance is very much open to question; in the first place, a number of countries (e.g. Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland, Rumania and the USSR) do not recognise loss of nationality by mere renunciation; specific permission to relinquish the original nationality is required, and the renunciation' under Australian procedures is, in their view, of no effect whatsoever. In the second place, loss of original nationality results automatically from naturalisation in the case of persons who were originally nationals of countries such as the USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Austria. Norway and Sweden. In these cases, the 'renunciation' is at least superfluous

I add that it would be more confusing than ever to former citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations - some 33 countries - 33 countries if we get the agreement of the Opposition and the honourable member for Kooyong to the inclusion of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas - to come here and find themselves formally renouncing allegiances and taking up a new allegiance although to a different entity certainly to the same person. I make this appeal to the Opposition: Put aside prejudices and petty party political considerations and vote this time in conformity with the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the Australian people and hold out a welcoming hand to the people who are here now and those who will come, without wishing them ill or wishing them hurt. This Bill is a compromise in the interests of unity. I put it forward in those terms and I hope the Opposition will support it.







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