Tuesday August 2 2005 7:45am WST
For Immediate Release
"The discovery that DIMIA for 20 years bungled the nationality of renowned Australian architect Mr Harry Seidler makes you want to lock up in Baxter everyone who works at the department and deport them for being un-Australian," WA Refugee group spokesman Jack Smit said this morning.
Australian media reported this story - through AAP, see below - earlier today.
"Being an Australian citizen is rapidly becoming one of the most sour jokes around the world, and the Department of Immigration would become a laughing stock in Australia, were it not for the massive pain and trauma these idiot bureaucrats are still inflicting on 'its target population' in the country.
"The fact that after twenty years, and after the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration are claiming to have 'cleaned out' the DIMIA since the Palmer report, they have now the audacity to send a cold-blooded bureaucrats' letter to a sick and ailing Companion to the Order of Australia telling him he is not an Australian, beggars belief.
"Cold-blooded bureaucrats still run this shocking department, who should have realised, instead of writing a disturbing letter to the famous architect, who should have realised that the bungling is on them, and they should have immediately created Australian citizenship documents for him in consultation with the Minister.
"This department still doesn't get the message. I say, sack them all and put all the jobs in the newspaper and start running this department under supervision of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commissioner."
For more information:
Jack H Smit
Project SafeCom Inc.
[phone number posted]
Harry Seidler 'not Australian'
August 02, 2005
ESTEEMED architect Harry Seidler learnt last week he in not Australian.
He has an Australian passport, is a Companion of the Order of Australia and his buildings have changed the face of Australian cities, but Immigration officials say he is not Australian, but Austrian, it has been reported.
Mr Seidler, 82, is struggling to recover from a serious stroke.
The Australian Electoral Commission advised him of his status last week after he requested a change of address on the electoral roll, the newspaper said.
Mr Seidler became an Australian in 1958, 20 years after escaping Nazi rule in his Austrian homeland.
Austria honoured him in 1985 by reinstating his citizenship lost during the war. This gesture meant the architect lost the right to carry his Australian passport, Immigration says.
But no-one told him for two decades - until last week.
"The Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs have advised that you lost your Australian citizenship on 17 December 1985 upon acquisition of another citizenship," the letter said.
The law that applies has been repealed, but there is no automatic return of citizenships forfeited under the old law.
Meanwhile, Mr Seidler has: been issued with Australian passports, as recently as March 2000; sat on the roll of electors; and become a Companion to the Order of Australia - all of which require citizenship.
Mr Seidler was too ill to talk but his wife, Penelope, said the ceremony at the Austrian consulate on December 17, 1985, was given only to honour him as an architect and to acknowledge the turmoil imposed by the war.
Mrs Seidler said: "...I'm concerned this happens to other people who don't know what to do. It's just one more example of the sort of thing that's going on there (in the department).
An Immigration spokesman said the department was "seeking clarification of Mr Seidler's status as a matter of urgency".