16 Nov 2005

PNG crowd seeks restoration of Australian citizenship

8:59 pm on 16 November 2005

Hundreds of people in Papua New Guinea who want to be recognised as Australian citizens have gathered in Port Moresby to mark 100 years since their homeland became an Australian territory.

Flying the flag of Australian Papua, about 2,000 people crowded into a stadium complaining that Papuans weren't given the choice to remain Australians when Papua New Guinea became independent in 1975.

On November the 16th 1905, Papua, covering what is now the southern half of the PNG mainland, became an Australian territory under the Papua Act.

Under Australia's 1948 Citizen Act, Papua was defined as part of Australia and anyone born there acquired Australian citizenship, although indigenous Papuans needed entry permits to enter Australia.

In August, the High Court in Australia upheld laws that Papuans ceased to be Australian citizens when PNG became independent in 1975.