Peter Hayes’ letter on aspects of Australian citizenship (NDL, 18 Oct) was extremely interesting.
Mr Hayes’ information sent me to the Parliamentary Library to see what sort of “oath of allegiance” was in force when I made my own oath in 1976. Research Note, no. 20, 19 November 2002 was enlightening.
In 1966 the oath was “amended” to include “the insertion of renunciation”. In the 1973 amendment the identification of Queen Elizabeth as “Queen of Australia” was also inserted.
The oath I affirmed in 1976 read: “I, A. B., renouncing all other allegiance, swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Australia, Her heirs and successors according to law, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Australia and fullfil my duties as an Australian citizen”.
This wording lasted until 1986 when “renunciation” was removed from the oath. The Human Rights Commission had recommended this removal. In 1993 the “oath” became a wishy-washy “Pledge of Commitment as a Citizen of the Country of Australia”, pledging “loyalty” to Australia, its “people”, its “democratic beliefs”, “rights and liberties I respect”, and the laws “I will uphold and obey”.
While I am clearly a fair dinkum Australian, by my public renunciation of “all other allegiance” to become an Australian citizen, more recent migrants might be on weaker ground.
Mr Hayes’ view that the various Citizenship Acts could be used to establish solid Australian citizenship, while leaving the Constitutional requirement 44(i) untouched, appears to have merit.
Clear and definite parliamentary oaths, and those for Governors General, emphasising the renunciation of “all other allegiance” would avoid the necessity for all aspiring federal politicians to trace their family histories in all their manifold twists and turnings.
In this way, relying on private investigations, public accusations, and expensive referrals to the High Court would be unnecessary.