Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee
Department of Veterans' Affairs
20 November, 2013
Senator WRIGHT: I wanted to raise a matter that came to light in the media, which was a concern, I think. It was about a gentleman who was German born, Mick Kramer. It was reported in August this year. He is a Vietnam veteran and he has been denied a passport because his naturalisation certificate had been altered in order to enable his enlistment in the Defence force when he was underage. So, essentially, it was changed with a pen to change his birth date from 1947 to 1946. He went off and served in Vietnam and came back, but when he applied for a passport quite some years later he has not only been refused the passport, but, according to the media reports, threatened with legal proceedings ending in jail for falsifying a document. I wonder if the department is aware of this particular case, and I am also interested to know if the department is aware of any similar cases.
Mr Lewis: I am not sure if the department is aware of the case, but it sounds clearly to be a matter for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Senator Ronaldson: I am aware of it and it is certainly a DFAT issue and not a DVA issue.
Senator WRIGHT: I understand that. I guess one of the questions is whether there are any similar cases. I am asking particularly as it relates to a veteran as opposed to respecting statistics that might be held by a different department. Is the department aware of any other cases, because—
Mr Lewis: Falsifying passport details?
Senator WRIGHT: No, not passport details. In fact it was enlistment details. That was the motivation for changing the age.
Mr Lewis: Falsifying enlistment details. That is almost the history of World War 1, isn't it?
Senator WRIGHT: Exactly. I think there is a real risk, according to what I am aware of in this case, that there is an injustice that would be perpetrated if indeed it was acceptable to do something that, as you have just acknowledged, happened not unusually in some cases, and then to be denied other matters because of that. Are you aware of any particular situations like that?
Mr Carmody: We are not aware of any of those that are linked to passports or visas or those sorts of issues. But, as the secretary said, there is a history of people changing their age to enlist, I think, in both world wars.
Senator WRIGHT: In both world wars and apparently also even for Vietnam, and who knows since then.