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9 February 2017

What a story!


My Canadian friend from my Bougainville days complained about the freezing cold in his homeland. So I emailed him back, suggesting he should've stayed in Australia. I had barely pressed the 'send' button, when this Australian citizenship certificate appeared on my screen.

"Shit!" I exclaimed, "You're one of us! Is this a real one or something you found on the internet?"

"No, of course it isn’t real or I would be there, taking full advantage of it", he replied.

And he explained, "I did find that document, if you can call it that, about my permanent resident status in TPNG and now I remember that we were all issued one by MKF to cover their ass. They didn’t mean shit and it was some kind of an arrangement that they had made with the Australian Territorial government so that they could supposedly keep track of us. Didn’t work, of course ... it would be nice if I could print that Australian Citizenship document off on the right type of paper and make it work, but the likelihood of that is remote, to say the least. I would think that the only record Australia has of me, maybe, would be the fact that I paid taxes for three years, which makes me think that maybe they still owe me some money."

What a story! I wonder if any other ex-MKF employee can verify it. And to think that more than a year later, on December the 9th, 1971, I had to front up to Reserve Magistrate David Bruce Moorhouse in his office in the old Arawa plantation building to swear allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, her heirs and successors, and to observe faithfully the laws of Australia and fulfil my duties as an Australian citizen, before they gave me the same piece of paper.

Lucky for me, mine is genuine which allows me to right now wallow in a 40-degree heatwave at my home at "Riverbend" on the beautiful South Coast of New South Wales.


P.S. On second thoughts, there's something strange about this story because my own citizenship certificate of that time still prominently featured the Queen in all her bejewelled beauty. Did they give you the 'economy' version, Chris?

P.P.S. Well, going by the evidence sent in by another reader, there was an even more 'economy' version issued to those who came out as £10 Poms. The red colour was added by me to make up for the lack of it on the original.


Here's his story:

"Your BCL story had me checking out the quality of the certificate issued to me – they must have been on an economy drive at the time because there was no queen and no colour, indeed nothing fancy at all. Although I doubt the economy factor as Gough Whitlam and his band of merry men were in charge at the time and we all know how that ended up.

As an original £10 POM (or at least my parents were, I don’t know if they charged for children or even, perhaps, gave a discount for them) we British were never required to apply for Australian citizenship and probably very few ever bothered to do so unless they wanted to apply for an Australian passport or be involved in some other activity requiring citizenship. The point was that if you wanted it, you got it without going through the drama of a citizenship ceremony and there certainly wasn’t a requirement to be able to answer questions on Australiana flora and fauna or know the Don’s batting average.

And so it was and life moved on. THEN came the doyen of flashy dressers, Albert Jaime Grassby who decreed that ALL migrants, regardless of their source, would have to apply for citizenship under a new set of rules and participate in a citizenship ceremony. My recollection is that the timing of the announcement and the cut off date of 31 May 1974 was quite short and I was spurred into action, slightly annoyed at the inconvenience of it all particularly since I had never considered myself as anything other than an Aussie.

I presented my birth certificate and completed application form at the Sydney offices of the immigration office on the last day they accepted them under the old rules (i.e. 31 May 1974) and by letter dated 26 June 1974 I received my citizenship certificate acknowledging that as from that date I was truly accepted as a citizen of Australia. The certificate itself already looked a little worn, and as noted, totally without colour, but I suspect Al was reserving that for one of his many ties."

I wonder if they made him sit for the test: