Picture this – you were born in Australia. You have lived your whole life in Australia. You have done all your schooling in Australia. You have even worked in Australia. So you think you are free to work wherever, whenever and for whomever in Australia that you choose? Right? Wrong! Think again.
Recently we were horrified in this house to learn that the job Steven (who is now 26) was to start in the managerial area for a supermarket chain had been canned because he was not classed an Australian Citizen.
He was born in Australia – has lived in this country from day 1 to now, never having gone overseas for even a holiday. He is a dinki-di Aussie. Admittedly he does not wear the akubra, nor does he call everyone ‘mate’ and I have never heard him say ‘G’day’ as we are supposed to here in this sunburnt country, he doesn’t swill down copious amounts of beer, and he does not smoke or swear like a trouper but I assure you he is Aussie born and bred.
Not according to the laws set down by the Labor Government during the Hawke/Keating years in the 80s/90s.
Because the country was bleeding funds with the diabolical Labor economy during that time, these two ‘brilliant’ (and I use that word with a fair amount of sarcasm attached) men decided they had to recoup some of their outrageous expenditure somehow. So they decided to change the laws relating to who was welcome in this country and who wasn’t. At the time they seemed to have a hate thing for the Kiwis who were coming to our country in droves, and as a result, they were the first to cop a serve of the good old Aussie hospitality in reverse.
Before then there was no passport required for travel between Australia and NZ. No working Visas necessary. Our Kiwi cousins were welcome at any time and we were welcome in NZ in return. My first husband and I travelled to and from New Zealand countless times – so often in fact the airline staff came to assume my husband was a pilot due to the beard he wore and that Air New Zealand look he had about him. Yes there was such a thing!
Not once were we ever asked for an entry permit, passport or proof of any kind to say we were who we stated on our airline tickets we were. Our kids had their own little pretend passports issued for frequent young fliers by the Air New Zealand folk along with a little gift bag of goodies each time they flew to either country. The Captain would fill out their mileage details and the aircraft details in their little pass books, and most times we flew they were invited to sit in the cockpit with the pilots to survey the wide open spaces and the Tasman Sea.
Now this is where the problem begins to rear its ugly head. My kids were born in the land of long white cloud in the South Island, so therefore they were considered Kiwis in that country, but also considered little Aussies in my country because I am a born and bred Aussie. They also had easy entry to UK due to their father being born in the UK. The best of all worlds.
But like all Camelot situations, it had to end and Keating as Treasurer deemed that all that freedom of travel and friendship in the ANZAC tradition was to end.
Therefore we found much to our dismay that because Steven had a Kiwi mother (my daughter), and a father born in the UK, and was unlucky enough to have been born between the years 1986 to 1994, he is not considered an Australian citizen unless he has a certificate provided by the government to prove he is.
At first the supermarket chain said they would accept the Citizenship Certificate belonging to either parent. On receipt of that certificate provided by his mother they then decided he had to have one of his own in order to be allowed to work for their Australian company.
This was no easy feat….34 pages to be filled out in the application which then required signatures by a JP declaring he/she had sighted the originals and that they were in fact the real deal. Passport photos signed, dated and stated they were true and correct by the said JP. Then of course there was a statement required by a professional who was not to be related to Steven but was to have known him for at least the past six years. How many kids can find someone like that in their kitchen cupboards? Luckily, Steven had Tim’s cousin (no relation to Steven), to fall back on who is the local cop and only too pleased to be of help, and as a bonus, has known him since the day dot.
The certificate took about 3 weeks to be produced. It will be framed and hung on Steven’s wall. After, that is, he has had several copies done and then signed by a JP to say it is what it is.
Bad luck if you were born during that time period to non Aussie parents as deemed by the illustrious leaders of our past.