What the new citizenship legislation meant

My team’s investigation of the non-citizens in the country identified about 1.3 million eligible, of whom nearly one million were British. These were all believed to be white, because non-whites (including the many professional Asians) would seek the sanctuary of citizenship as quickly as possible.

… … a good friend of mine, whose working life was predominantly in Australia, with an English wife and children born in Australia, refused Australian citizenship. He had done this because of an intangible but proud affinity with his country of birth. He does not mind paying for a re-entry visa whenever he attends conferences overseas (frequently). It was a matter of pride to him.

Others have said that they have fought for and worked for Australia all their lives and so objected to being treated as immigrants – for them, moving to Australia was not emigration. I had some sympathy for this view – Australia had been an extension of home; and they had been allowed to reach top positions in Australia, without challenge.

Now, things were going to change. A coloured New Australian would recommend parity of treatment, of the sexes, and of all immigrants under citizenship legislation. He would recommend that anyone wishing to govern, administer, or fight for Australia, had to make a commitment to Australia; that citizenship was the vehicle for that commitment; and that this commitment be in the form of an oath of affirmation or allegiance to Australia, the nation. It was easy. No one disagreed.

… … It was ironic that at the time of recommending removal of the preferential treatment of British migrants, my right of entry into Britain was being removed. Britain was limiting the residence and citizenship rights of her colonial subjects. But I became aware of my loss only after I had completed my recommendations regarding Australian citizenship. I was also not interested in dual citizenship, which I consider anachronistic.

I also recommended the elimination of Ministerial discretion in citizenship matters. This would deny delegated rights to senior officers. Discretion is too easily abused. The unavailability of discretion dissuades politicians wishing to garner electoral support by generous discretionary approvals.

My revised legislative package was then worked over for three years by a number of division heads, some allegedly attempting to reintroduce discretion (for good reasons, of course). A number of branch heads sought to put their footprints on the documentation, and a chain of section heads carried the burdens of the ambitions of their bosses.
Finally, a no-nonsense Minister came upon the scene and said, “Let there be legislation covering all my decisions – no discretion,” or something like that, and three years after I left the area, the amended legislation was passed by Parliament. The day it occurred, the responsible section head, a man for whom I have the greatest respect, told me with some glee that “your package” got through today, “substantially as you had it.” That was good, and I felt good.

As for the enhancement project, the multi-ethnic members of the advisory council were mighty pleased with my paper and, a few years later, … it was tabled in Parliament. It contained a proposal to enhance citizenship through the education system. I had borrowed the model for this from my earlier proposal to my local school (and thus to the local Schools Authority) for a religious education (not indoctrination) programme for primary schools. Some years later, I was gratified to hear the then Prime Minister tell his nation that citizenship meant a commitment to the nation.

(It would be obvious from these extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ that, while the citizenship legislation needed revision, for 3 years, officials at the 2 levels in the senior executive service had sought unsuccessfully to amend the complete revision package. Since all relevant agencies, including Attorney-General’s, had approved the package, and since my expert team could not be countered, personal ambition (seeking delegated discretion) and petty prejudice against an outsider had to give way. My team provided the expertise; I merely led the way.

Since then, dual citizenship ruined the concept of a commitment to one’s nation through citizenship. My children’s generation had seen the future. What then of the sovereignty of independent nations? And the scope for protecting the nationals of such nations when in legal trouble overseas?)