Government Response Dismisses Overseas Australians

14 December

The Southern Cross Group (SCG) today expressed its disappointment with the Federal Government’s recent response to Senate Committee recommendations made in the Inquiry into Australian Expatriates.

In the response tabled twenty-one months after the Senate Committee recommendations were first published, the Government rejected eight out of sixteen recommendations.

Senate Committee proposals rejected by the Government include:

  • The recommendation to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to assist expatriate Australians to maintain their electoral enrolment while abroad;
  • The recommendation to establish a web portal devoted to the provision of information and services for expatriate Australians;
  • The recommendation that the web portal should include a page of links to expatriate network websites, to facilitate engagement and information exchange in the expatriate community;
  • The recommendation to establish a policy unit with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to facilitate the coordination of policies relating to Australian expatriates;
  • The recommendation that the websites of Australia’s foreign missions should include an on-line registration facility to enable local expatriates to register their professional profiles, in turn allowing stronger engagement between missions and expatriates, providing a resource for missions in their work of promoting Australia’s interests overseas, and allowing expatriates to be notified of upcoming events and news;
  • The recommendation to amend Australian citizenship law to ensure that children of people who renounced their citizenship under Section 18 of the Australian Citizenship Act 1948 are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by descent.

SCG Australian Co-ordinator John MacGregor said: "A number of very sensible proposals that the Government has rejected would not be expensive to implement but would make a big difference to the lives of many ordinary overseas Australians. Although the Government has dismissed so many of the Senate Committee’s good ideas, it has to date wholly failed to put forward its own comprehensive strategy plan or blueprint for this country’s future engagement with its million-strong diaspora. We can only assume that the Government finds such a step unnecessary because most of those in the diaspora are disenfranchised under Australian electoral law and have no power at the ballot box."

View all 16 recommendations and the Government’s individual responses can be read in Senate Hansard of 7 December 2006.

View the pdf version of this media release.

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