An Australian volunteer who was doing whatever volunteers do in PNG.
I was there for 2 years until Dec 2005 .. I hope I made the most of it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Citizenship Decided

A few weeks ago a major debate here was finally, it seems, put to rest. Surprisingly considering the editorials and letters it provoked before this ruling the precedent seems to have gone rather unnoticed.

It involves the citizenship of Papuans born between 1948 and 1975. There was an argument that Papuans were in fact still Australian citizens because Papua at that time was a territory of Australia (as opposed to New Guinea which was a trusteeship). The High Court of Australia seems to have finally put to bed the argument in a precedent case.
Amos Bode Ame argued in Australia's highest court that he had remained an Australian citizen after his native country became independent and had never become a PNG citizen because he did not take steps to renounce his Australian citizenship.

He was born in 1967 in the Southern Highlands province of Papua, which with New Guinea was administered by Australia.

The history behind this is something I find interesting. When the Brits and the Germans were imposing themselves on various parts of the country in the late 19th century the Germans took the north and the Brits grabbed the south. Finally they agreed to a border between their two colonies and drew a line between them on the map. That line went straight through the highlands ane down to the coast south of where Lae is now.

Little did they know that their line actually passed through the most densely populated part of the country. By the stroke of one line 500,000 unknowing people became either German protected or British protected. This little line later caused a few political issues once the highlands opened up. It was easy to have a simple north and south areas for colonial administrative purposes, not easy once their north and south got hazy in the highlands.