The National – Wednesday, February 16, 2011
By VERONICA FRANCIS
A 70-YEAR-old man fronted up at The National office yesterday morning to pour out his heart on the injustice he and his comrades faced while serving under the Australian army PNG c ommand before 1975.
Michael Manau Siriam, from Goilala, Central, who is the adviser for the ex-colonial soldiers, revealed that they were now seeking damage compensation payments under the Papua Act No. 09 of 1905-1906 and recognition of Australian citizenship.
He claimed that during their term while serving in the PNG command, they faced many hardships; they were discriminated against and were denied certain rights which was a total violation of their Human Rights by Australian Army.
“We want to be recognized as Australian soldiers who served in the PNG Command before 1975 because we were enlisted into the Defence Service under the Papua Act No. 09 of 1905-1906, The Nationality and Citizenship Act No. 83 of 1948 and the Migration Act No. 62 of 1958 which identifies us as Australian Soldiers during our service,” he said.
Siriam added that while they were serving in the PNG Command they were paying tax to the Australian Government, adding they now want entitlements which are due for them.
It was understood that a submission has been given to the Australian High Commission here in Port Moresby and the Ex-Colonials have already received a response that the documents will be sent to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Canberra and the Australian Defence Force.
Siriam told The National that he had all the documents and proof available with him, therefore would be seeking legal interpretation on their qualification.
He said some of his other comrades had passed away, currently they have 53 members in this Ex-Colonial Group and he is urging others who might be qualified under this category to come and register with the group so that their voices could be heard.
“Come forward if you know you are eligible with your records, that is your date of enlistment, date of discharge and your army number with a fee of K45 so that you can register with the group,” he said.