The enhancement of Australian citizenship

The area in which I made the greatest contribution was in citizenship. To many, especially those at the age of my offspring, citizenship can be seen as irrelevant, as they are global in their perspectives. All of Earth is one; national boundaries are barriers and a bore, and they know too that such boundaries are ignored or overcome by the clever; and that, increasingly, modern communication technology is making national limits superfluous.

It is also equally obvious to all, that powerful people juggle with citizenship to relative advantage, while some governments make a mockery of the meaning of citizenship by offering or imposing dual citizenship. Worse still, many a nation conceals a multiplicity of tribes or ethnic communities; with varying degrees of intolerance, these tribes cohabit a given geographical region, seeking relative advantage, while, at the same time, mouthing superficially politically correct utterances about one nation. The reality is that the concept of one nation suits those in control, as long as those below continue to accept their place.

It was against this background that I was asked to produce a paper for the Minister’s ethnic affairs advisers, on citizenship enhancement. About a million or so migrants had not taken up citizenship (by grant). The plan was to identify the recalcitrants and encourage them to apply for citizenship.

… … The drivers behind this push were the same determined duo of politician and bureaucrat who are believed to have coined the slogan “Root for Australia” as a suitable substitute for the long established policy of “Populate or perish” (translated by the younger generation to the environmentally sensitive “Copulate and Perish”). “Populate or perish” was initiated to counter the threat of an invasion by the Yellow Hordes from the north. This then justified the substantial expansion of immigration of all shades of white, because the Aussie’s sexual drive was allegedly affected by various forms of droop (presumably beer droop). That was not true.

… … The objective of making citizenship attractive to the tardy led to the examination of all aspects of citizenship, which was timely. There were a number of issues: the rights of women, dual citizenship, loss of citizenship, recovery of citizenship, denial of citizenship, and the preferential treatment of British subjects. The latter were not required to take an oath of allegiance; they could become politicians and Ministers in the government, without taking up citizenship; they could hold top positions in the armed services without Australian citizenship.

They could shape defence and every other Australian national policy without Australian citizenship. While Australia was Britain’s backyard, such rights were no doubt appropriate.

And I was not aware of any challenge to these rights. It was only when I asked my chief why I, as a British subject, was simply allowed to register as a citizen, whereas non-British migrants were required to become naturalised, that the question became an issue. Naturalisation involved a citizenship ceremony, including an oath of affirmation or allegiance, at that time to the Queen (as Queen of Australia). As British subjects already owed allegiance to their Queen, it was taken that no further oath or affirmation was necessary.

While I was researching the paper on citizenship enhancement, I was offered the job of (acting) head of the Citizenship and Language Services Branch (i.e. including TIS, Translation and NAATI). Naturally, I took it. I managed the Branch while I wrote the enhancement paper and presented it progressively to the advisory council. The chairman thanked me for my work, and its speed of delivery.

With the support of my expert team, I also reviewed the citizenship legislation, produced a revised legislative package, and had it approved by all relevant agencies (including the Attorney-General’s) so that it was ready for consideration by the Minister. In that period of less than one year, I also tightened up practices in the language services area and introduced cost efficiencies. The head of the agency had given broad instructions, especially in the area of cost and administrative efficiencies, and I carried them out. I recall neither help nor hindrance from the chaps in between; my papers piled up on their desks.

When I finished my tasks, my Branch was split so that I would not have a Branch to manage, and I reverted to my position in yet another new area. This was not unexpected, as I had already learned that, again, I was an outsider. This time, I was needed to get jobs done well and quickly.

(As these extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ demonstrate, Australia’s citizenship legislation needed improvement. My expert team carried out the first review since its introduction in 1948, when citizenship was bestowed upon the hither-to British subjects. I too had been born a British subject.

The day before my branch was split, I had been interviewed (after 5pm) for a permanent filling of my job by 2 senior executives, who must have known that the job did not exist after 4.51pm that day. Because I did not expect an objective assessment, I had joked with my interviewers; that would have made them wonder if I had been previously told that I was going to be an orphan again.

Psychologically, it was interesting for me to realise that both the chairman of the advisory council and the agency head respected my ability to get the best results in the shortest possible time. The Chairman, Professor Emeritus Jerzy Zubrzycki, later endorsed my first 2 books: ‘Destiny Will Out’ and ‘The Karma of Culture.’ How my personal destiny works is a wonder to me.

The dishonesty of the executives who interviewed me for a non-existent job had, however, been clearly apparent to me for some time. As I was told a few years later by a new boss – an outsider – I represented a threat to those of their ilk.)