By JACOB POK
MEMBERS of the Papuan Plaintiff Group yesterday gathered at the Australian High Commission office in Port Moresby and presented their letter of thanks to the Australian government for acknowledging their bid in obtaining automatic Australian citizenship.
Responding to a letter from the group seeking citizenship recognition, it was said that Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd directed the department of foreign affairs and trade to look into their legal status and reply to them.
“The matters you have raised are primarily the responsibility of the department of immigration and citizenship (DIAC) in the Australian system of government.
“Accordingly, I have forwarded your correspondence to DIAC with a request that they reply to you directly on the matters,” wrote Colin Milner, director for the PNG and Torres Strait Section, Pacific division, of the Australian department of foreign affairs and trade.
Spokesperson for the group Jonathan Baure said: “Our stand on section 64 of the Constitutions states that every Papuan born prior to Independence are Australian citizens.”
He said while carrying out research, Australian government documents had also shown that Papuans who were born prior to Independence were Australian citizens.
He said this included the Papuan people of Oro province, Milne Bay, Gulf province, Western province, Central province including NCD and “last Papua” of Southern Highlands province.
He said they had been curious and worked on this for last 10 years and finally got a response from the Australian government.
Mr Baure said the move was not to do away as PNG citizens and be Australian “it’s only to appreciate and acknowledge the Australian government for their responses to the many inquires we made to know our legal status,”
He said the Australian department of immigration and citizenship had been informed about the matter.