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Australian-born Maltese and their Children

STOP PRESS: Australian Citizenship Act 2007 will Commence on 1 July 2007!

We can now confirm that applications for the resumption of Australian citizenship under the provisions of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 will be able to be filed from Monday 2 July 2007. The Governor-General's proclamation dated 7 June which will bring the operative provisions of the Act into force on Sunday 1 July 2007 was published on 12 June. Read the proclamation here.

New application forms for use under the new Act will be available from the Australian Government's Citizenship website from 1 July. DO NOT download an application form from that site before 1 July for a citizenship application to be filed after 1 July, as it will be the wrong one.

Those in Malta who formally renounced their Australian citizenship under Section 18 of the 1948 Act will qualify to apply to resume their Australian citizenship under Section 29(3)(a)(ii) of the 2007 Act.

SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS APPLY TO CITIZENSHIP APPLICANTS IN MALTA

The Australian High Commission (AHC) is running information sessions for potential applicants. For a session timetable, visit the website of the AHC in Malta. Or download the initial timetable here.

The AHC website also includes basic information for Malta-based applicants on how to prepare applications. Download that information as a pdf document in English here. We are told that this information is available in Maltese as well, but so far it has not been forthcoming from the AHC.

Download the new citizenship resumption application form on or after 1 July from this site.

You can also call into the AHC in Malta to pick up a form in person.

NOTE: You cannot lodge your citizenship resumption application at the AHC in Malta.

All applications from people in Malta must be posted to Canberra. You must send all your original documents, including current Maltese passport or National ID Card to Canberra with your application, unless you can get copies of them certified by an Australian consular officer or Australian diplomatic officer.

Until the end of July 2007, an Australian Department of Immigration Official, Mr Nunzio Rinaudo, will be in Malta and will carry out such certifications for those who do not want to send their original documents to Australia. However, he will not do this at the AHC in Malta, but at some other location, place, time and date as yet unknown. Further information is available from the AHC by e-mailing aushicom@onvol.net.

The Department has informed the SCG that "the issue of certification of copies of identity documents is a matter that will be dealt with locally and in a flexible way to meet the local demand. For this reason it is not possible to provide in advance details of when and where it will take place. Appropriate information will be made available locally through the HC as the arrangements are finalised."

In view of the fact that almost 2,000 people in Malta become eligible to apply for resumption on 1 July 2007, the SCG has questioned the Department's wisdom in not accepting citizenship applications at the AHC in Malta, by writing both to the Minister and to the Department. The Minister has not responded. The following response was received from the Department on 21 June 2007:

The Department at all time strives to do its best in providing services to our clients within the resources available to us. Evidence of this is the current short term mission to Malta to provide former citizens with first hand access to the Department at a post where there is usually no Immigration and Citizenship presence and only a small HC. The commencement of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 of itself places no obligation on the Australian Government to provide this level of service.

The Department asserts that everyone in Malta is happy with the arrangements it has made. If you are a resumption applicant in Malta and are unhappy with these local arrangements, please let us know, and/or write to the Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, the Hon Kevin Andrews MP.

Note also that the SCG has queried the Minister on certain specifics concerning the police clearances required by resumption applicants under the 2007 Act. No response has been received to date.

Overview

This section of our website is especially for people who were born in Australia and now live in Malta, as well as their children. These people are in a special situation with regard to Australian citizenship.

To read about the latest developments in the Southern Cross Group's campaign to help these people gain access to Australian citizenship, read our Latest Developments Page.

The material below explains who is affected by this issue and the history behind the problem.

Do You Belong to this Special Group?

In the decades following the Second World War, many thousands of Maltese migrated to Australia. Once in Australia, many of these people started families, and one or more children were born to them in Australia.

Children born on Australian soil to Maltese-citizen parents automatically became Australian citizens by birth, under Australian law. These children also enjoyed Maltese citizenship by descent, under Maltese law. So the children had dual Australian/Maltese citizenship while they were growing up.

After several years in Australia, some of these families decided to return to Malta to live, taking their dual citizen minor children with them back to Malta.

Once back in Malta, these children were not able to keep both their Australian and their Maltese citizenship in adulthood. Until 10 February 2000, Maltese law demanded that they choose one of their two citizenships to keep by their 19th birthdays. Prior to 10 February 2000, Maltese law did not tolerate dual citizenship.

Almost 2,000 young people born in Australia opted, under duress, to keep their Maltese citizenship. Because they were living in Malta, it was virtually essential to be a Maltese citizen, in order to be able to access free education, government jobs, and other benefits.

So they had to give up their Australian citizenship. This was done by way of a formal renunciation under Section 18 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948. The Australian High Commission in Malta gave the person a document evidencing that Australian citizenship had been formally renounced. This document was then provided to the Maltese citizenship authorities as proof that Australian citizenship had been renounced so that the person could retain Maltese citizenship in adulthood.

It was a matter of great sadness and regret to Australian-born people in this predicament that they had to forfeit their Australian citizenship. Having been born in Australia, and after living there for several years as children and often as teenagers, these people felt and still feel a great affinity with Australia. Although they are no longer Australian citizens in the legal sense, they still feel Australian inside and heavily identify with Australia.

Renunciation No Longer Necessary for Australian-born Maltese

We stress that today Australian-born Maltese who live in Malta no longer have to renounce their Australian citizenship by their 19th birthday. Since 10 February 2000, when Maltese citizenship law and the Maltese Constitution changed to allow dual citizenship, Australian/Maltese dual citizen young people in Malta have been able to keep both citizenships beyond their 19th birthdays.

Australian Law Currently Prevents Resumption of Lost Australian Citizenship

Although Maltese law has now been reformed to allow dual citizenship, Australian law still does not allow Australian-born Maltese citizens living in Malta today to resume their lost Australian citizenship. Although it is possible to resume Australian citizenship in particular circumstances under Australian law (if for example citizenship was lost under the now-repealed Section 17), resumption is not currently legally possible for people over the age of 25 who renounced their Australian citizenship under Section 18 in order to retain another citizenship, like the almost 2,000 people in Malta described above. But this will change with the entry into force of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 on 1 July 2007.

Campaign to Allow Resumption under Australian Law

The Southern Cross Group has been lobbying the Australian government on this issue since 2001, on a number of fronts. Various documents in the Dual Citizenship folder of our site Archives attest to our continuing efforts.

Change is almost there!

We are pleased to be able to write that the government agreed in July 2004 that Australian-born Maltese should be able to resume their lost Australian citizenship. On 7 July 2004, the then Citizenship Minister the Hon Gary Hardgrave MP announced that the law would be changed to make resumption possible. Read the Minister's media release of 7 July 2004 here and the Southern Cross Group's media release of 8 July 2004 in response here.

After a wait of 16 months, on 9 November 2005 the Australian Government finally introduced legislation to repeal and replace the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 in the form of the Australian Citizenship Bill 2005. This proposed legislation included all the changes promised by the Government in its 7 July 2004 announcement, but still excluded the Maltese-born children of Australian-born Maltese.

Despite efforts to have the Bill amended during its passage through parliament to include the children of Australian-born Maltese, those children were not included.

The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 was finally passed by Parliament in Canberra on 1 March 2007, and received Royal Assent on 15 March 2007. Its operative provisions will come into force on 1 July 2007. The only requirement for resumption of Australian citizenship from 1 July 2007 will be that the person is of good character.

SCG Still Working to Try to Get Access to Australian Citizenship for Children

We are still lobbying to try to ensure that children born in Malta to Australian-born Maltese who renounced their citizenship under Section 18 will also eventually be given access to Australian citizenship. It may be possible to achieve an amendment to the 2007 Act if there is a change of government in Australia in late 2007 as a result of the federal election.

Support our Campaign and Stay Informed

For the latest developments in our campaign and for an update on the progress of the amending legislation, go to our Latest Developments Page.

In addition, make sure you are on our mailing list so that you will be kept informed as matters unfold. And please let others who are in this special group know about our website and this information. It would be a pity if some people miss out on resuming their Australian citizenship once the law changes because they simply aren't informed.

Our SCG volunteer Co-ordinator for Malta, Norman Bonello, can be contacted at +356 79 468 329 or by e-mail at norman@southern-cross-group.org.

Help us to Keep Helping You

If you would like to show your appreciation for the work the Southern Cross Group is doing on behalf of Australian-born Maltese, please make a donation using the Amazon Honor system. We are an entirely volunteer-run non-profit organisation. Our expenses are largely met out of the personal pockets of our volunteers, who also give generously of their time. Your donation will help us cover basic administration costs so that we can continue with our advocacy work on behalf of the Australian diaspora. If you would prefer not to donate online, but using another method, contact Norman Bonello, details above. We also welcome offers of sponsorship.

Read the SCG's Letter to Opposition MPs of 5 December 2005 >>>

Read the SCG's Letter to Coalition MPs of 4 December 2005 >>>

Read about Latest Developments >>>

Send an E-mail to the Minister about Children >>>

SCG Media Release of 25 November 2005 >>>

SCG Media Release of 22 November 2005 (in pdf format)
"Aussie Families in Malta Tell of Citizenship Heartache"

Portelli Family Story
Schembri Family Story
Cassar Family Story
Calleja Family Story
Carabott Family Story
Valletta Family Story

Read SCG Media release of 14 November 2005 >>>
Read SCG Media Release of 9 November 2005 >>>
Read SCG Media Release of 29 August 2004 >>>
Read SCG Letter to Editor Times of Malta of 15 September 2004 >>>
Read SCG Media Release of 16 September 2004 >>>
Read ALP Media Release of 16 September 2004 >>>
Read SCG Media Release of 8 March 2005 >>>


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Updated:
15 September 2008