Kaugere youth shows power of human spirit
PNG: the land of the disenfranchised

Dual citizenship & other complexities of life

BY BERNARD OBERLEUTER

Cairns041009 HERE’S AN IMPORTANT ISSUE for the hundreds of Papuans and New Guineans living in Australia and other parts of the world. Why has there never been any consideration given from our country of birth regarding dual citizenship.

Australia was our administrator, and did not allow dual citizenship any recognition. Why?

We consider it our birthright to visit traditional lands, homelands, attend the gravesites of our ancestors, engage in our tradition and culture, and work in partnership with people from our villages and provinces.

We all have brothers, sisters, mums, dads and extended families who live in PNG; often living in fear and under very extreme conditions and hardship.

We miss our buai and daka (betel nut) , our root crops, vegetables and green leafy cabbages, taro, yam, manyota (tapioca), saksak (sago), varieties of eating bananas.

Which bring me to another point of concern, we do not see a lot of imports of our eating and cooking bananas and other vegetable varieties. In Australia, very little is known of PNG produce... olsem women? ... can't we import these foods to Australia for our consumption? We are fortunate, to kaikai the buai, but that's about the extent of PNG produce.

Let us speak with one voice. Please raise your concerns through PNG Attitude, so that we living overseas may make it known that our remittance to our families back home do help to contribute in a small way toward the PNG economy.

We have to address corruption, law and order, education, health, housing, infrastructure and youth development if we are to see the country move forward.

We must educate the population through massive awareness through advertising, radio and television with resonating slogans like Votim gutpela man na meri long 2012 eleksin ['Vote for competent people in the 2012 election'] or Sapotim yu ol mama, papa, susa, brata na olgeta pikinini na bubus ['Give your support, you mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and all you children and elders']

Stap isi olgeta wantok ... [Take it easy friends]

Comments

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Austin Kipan | Dual Citizenship Campaigner

Great news! The PNG government passed the amendments to the constitution in the February 2014 parliamentary sitting. It was proposed in November 2013. PNGns can now have dual citizenship.

Austin Kipan

Read this article from Post Courier dated 23 August 2012. Has there been any update since?

Govt considers dual citizenship

PAPUA New Guineans who want to become citizens of Australia or New Zealand may do so in the future.

Dual Citizenship is now on the agenda for the current O’Neill-Dion Government as announced by the Governor-General Sir Michael Ogio in his address to the nation this week while officially opening the Ninth Parliament.

The issue, together with the asylum seekers processing centre in Manus, indemnity legislation, the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act, the extension of the current Parliament five-year term, the election of the Prime Minister, the Judicial Conduct Bill and many other Acts and legislative amendments and others will be discussed and decisions taken by the National Executive Council in the next two weeks.

Foreign Affairs Minister Rimbink Pato told the Post- Courier yesterday that the issue of Dual Citizenship together with the Foreign Policy matter and PNG’s idea to promote increased investment and free travel between Australia and NZ will be discussed thoroughly with important stakeholders, especially the Attorney-General’s office before it gets to Cabinet then to the floor of Parliament. He could give further details of the latter.

“This is a very important issue for Papua New Guinea, but I need to sit down with you and we discuss this further because it requires a lot of technical and legal explanations,” Mr Pato said.

When asked about the details yesterday, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told the Post-Courier that Cabinet had already met on all these issues, including the Dual Citizenship Act matter and had already directed the Attorney-General and its office to deal with the issue, come up with and finalise the legal advice on the issue and prepare the instruments for Cabinet to deliberate on before it goes to the floor of Parliament in two weeks time.

Patricia Riley

I was ostracised by Australian, PNG governments and the UN by allowing this sort of thing to happen when I was younger.

Many of us too young to know the laws or not having anyone to explain the whole process - no support at all.

I was robbed of my PNG family. I called the UN to say how unfair that was - I had a reply to say that they would register it and that was the end of the UN.

So much for human rights stuffed up by the West. Now I have to beg to go back to a country who needs honest help and we are not good enough for our own country.

The outsider interest such as mining, logging, and sea products are the only winner - with just a few PNGns benefiting.

I hope Peter O'Neill will correct this misscarriage of justice that the West and governments has imposed on PNG descendants, as they are disappearing overseas fast in an effort to earn a living.

Gurvinder Singh

If people go for work in PNG under an Australian company, can they apply for Australian citizenship or not?

And if they are in PNG, can they travel easily to Australia or not?

Ribiri Hawkins

My husband and I fully support the idea of dual citizenship for people who are citizens of Australia who were born in PNG and living overseas.

We were both born in PNG in the early 50s and went to live in Australia in the 80s with our 3 children who were also born in PNG.

Both my parents are PNG and my husband's mum was PNG and dad Aussie.

My dad is still living and my 10 siblings and families all live in and around POM. My husband also has lots of relos up in PNG as well.

Now that we're both retired we try to visit all our families and relatives as often as possible.

We would like to help them in every way but because of the limited time we can stay in PNG we sometimes feel we cannot.

Having dual citizenship will allow us to spend more time in PNG with our people.

Austin Kipan

There is a strong support for 'dual citizenship'. The PNG High Commissioner said that he had discussions with the government and put in this request (I heard from him in Canberra). Even the PM got this petition when he visited Perth in 2011 from PNG Community. Some PMs do support this.

I myself know people that made and can make amendments to pass this (or have drafted the amendments), but they need to be passed by the parliament.

What can we do?

Write letters to PNG Immigration and the PM's office. Get your community together to get signatures supporting this move. Get views in writing and voices and what the situation is without dual citizenship and what it would be with dual citizenship. The benefits, etc. etc.

Collect all this info and petition via your PNG diplomatic mission/representative to pass it over to the PNG government.

I have spoken to the PNG High Commissioner and I am on a mission to collect as many support and petition then organise with several PNG community leaders here in Australia to go as a group to Port Moresby to hand it our petition.

There is a site you can go to enter your petition. Follow this link:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/grant-papua-new-guinea-dual-citizenship-now/

Dual citizenship for Papua New Guineans can have many benefits.

Johnny Carter

It is not Australia that prevents dual citizenship, it is PNG. I know several persons that have both passports and travel only on their PNG passport when going to PNG and back.

Unfortunately for some they have not been concentrating when going through PNG customs and have had their PNG passports confiscated.

I am an Australian that spent many years in PNG and would love to go back and live there as I have many PNG friends who are willing to give me a house to live in as I helped several families up there build theirs.

I could live on my pension and enjoy the rest of my life up there but I am certain that I would not be able to do so as due to PNG government policy.

Reginald Renagi

Sorry, my earlier comments were in direct response to Patricia Riley's sentiments.

In future, I believe we will eventually have a 'dual citizenship' agreement or a law for this.

But not under the prevailing political climate in our two countries.

Reginald Renagi

Many PNGeans also feel the same as you.

I can not see my sister and family in Australia as often as I would like as its costly but having a 'dual citizenship' between Australia and PNG has many benefits.

This is one major way for PNG and Australia to improve future relations with each other than what the AusAid programs are undertaking in PNG at great expense.

Patricia Riley

I would love to get dual citizenship in PNG. I didn't get to vote at age 9 in 1975. My children have missed out on their own ethnicity because of it. Travel and tax is expensive. I will be a registered nurse in 3 years time. I have a son who will be a physiotherapist in 2 years time and will try to become a doctor in following years. My other son is studying electrical engineering and later to follow with civil engineering to try and help isolated villages in ways to make life easier for them. We are very limited due to the limited time we can spend in PNG. It is such a shame that so much talent from PNG is getting wasted. We could do so much more for PNG than foreigners if given dual citizenship. My mother's (from Trobriand Island) father was Australian, my father was Canadian/Australian so we have connections with both countries.

Reginald Renagi

This matter is very important. I thank Bernard Oberleuter for raising it in PNG Attitude.

Many PNGeans living on both sides of the Coral Sea want to make frequent visits to PNG and Australia for many reasons.

But no dual citizenship policy hampers such good intentions.

Many PNGeans feel this is because of Australian racism; a hangover from the former "White Australia Policy" era.

Otherwise there is no real excuse for Australia to keep maintaining a "no dual citizenship" stance with PNG.

Keep at it, Bernard. You have our support in PNG. Let's have more noise raised in Canberra to make Aussie pollies see the benefits of a more open interaction between PNG and Australia.

The benefits of dual citizenship are too obvious to be ignored.

Jaymz

As I remember from the sittings of various generations of Constitutional Development Committees, both John Momis and John Guise [no PNG Sirs then] were adamant on the point that citizenship should not permit a foot in each camp.

They even arranged an amendment later that stopped an Australian applicant becoming a citizen unless the spouse also switched. Check with the debates in Hansard.

I was not against this system, and became a PNG citizen in 1976 [I applied in Independence week 1975].

Circumstances changed and my [PNG] wife and family accompanied me to Australia in 1984. We originally had no intention of leaving PNG. It took me two and a half years to regain Australian status after arrival.

I agree with the gist of this discussion. Circumstances have changed since the 1970s. Many PNG people [for instance, divorced or widowed women who took Australian status in earlier years] are having difficulties with this rule.

When in Canberra, where there is a large population of PNG people, we found that it became the norm for PNG spouses to be permanent residents, rather than citizens of Australia.

But no right to vote, etc. They miss out both ways. I've never seen a campaign by PNG electoral officials to get PNG citizens to vote from Australia.

Bring on dual citizenship, or a common market, or something. Discrimination [jealousy?] for too long!

Dr Laevai M M Neuendorf

The frustrations of duality is a long standing issue for many Kumuls who are now practically foreigners to their native land.

Sam Abal (Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister) promised to look into this matter sometime last year. So far nothing has happened. I made inquiries but was told the problem is that PNG that does not recognise dual citizenship. Nor Australia. Or am I naive?

I agree that dual citizenship must be pursued. In the past, I have spoken out strongly about corruption, law and order, and education. I have been threatened at gunpoint and told to go back to Australia.

Guns have not stopped me. I still go back to PNG because there is so much that needs to be done and too few people with a conscience to speak for the ordinary person.

I take my hat off to the likes of Sam Basil MP, the Member for Bulolo.

Somehow, many of us feel helpless at times. The government and bureaucracy is just too corrupt.

I love my ancestral homeland, my heritage and my family. I will continue to do what I can for equality, honesty, justice and truth with the people that are willing to listen and act.

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