SYDNEY - Our daughter was born in Port Moresby in 1958 during my first term of service in Papua New Guinea.
Recently, she applied to renew her Australian passport, six months ahead of its expiry date. To her surprise, the current perfectly valid passport was immediately defaced by clipping the pages.
She was told before a new passport could be issued she had to prove her Australian citizenship. The documentation required for this included her birth certificate, both her mother's and her father's birth certificates, their marriage certificate and details of their (that is, mine and my wife's) parents' place of birth.
Expostulation that this was merely the renewal of an Australian passport, which had previously been issued at least three times previously without question, was brushed aside without explanation.
As you may imagine, this caused an initial panic, as it was made clear that without the required documents, nothing would proceed.
Fortunately we keep immaculate family records and had no trouble to turning over the file. When we left PNG finally in 1966 we had taken the precaution to obtain multiple copies of all our children's birth certificates.
My birth certificate (and my wife's) also showed our parents' names as well as places and dates of birth, so all was complete.
These documents were duly copied and a fee of $198 was charged (extorted) for the procedure of certification of Australian citizenship to be completed. This was to be done in the previously unheard-of ‘Citizenship-PNG Unit’ in Brisbane.
Now, the climax. My daughter was told that until the Citizenship-PNG Unit certified her Australian citizenship, she was a stateless person!
When she does receive this bureaucratic imprimatur, she will still have to pay the standard fee for passport renewal.
I have just come out of hospital after a hip replacement and have not been able to investigate this scandal further.
My only guess is that it may somehow follow from the dual citizenship saga involving federal politicians, but I would love to know how and when this nonsense came about.
My daughter by the way, is a lawyer, general manager of the NSW Council of Law Reporting, and is not taking this offence lying down.
First priority however, was to obtain her new passport and recover from the injustice of having six months passport validity stolen, prevented from travelling, and being declared stateless.
Who else with children born in PNG during the Australian trusteeship will be subjected to this treatment? And why?
Geoff Luck was journalist in charge of the ABC in Port Moresby from 1957-58 and news editor for Papua New Guinea in 1962-66 before continuing with a distinguished career in Australian journalism