Aboriginal activist enters Australia without passport

An Aboriginal activist has legally entered Australia at Brisbane international airport despite refusing to use an Australian passport.

Carrying a self-styled Aboriginal passport, Nganyaywana man Callum Clayton-Dixon has also recently entered and departed the Solomon Islands.

Mr Clayton-Dixon, chair of the Aboriginal Provision Government (APG), told SBS that he arrived in Brisbane from Honiara on June 30.

“They warned me if I made any false declaration that could involve some penalty under the law but I didn’t make any false declaration,” he said.

“I just kept on insisting I’m an Aboriginal person returning to my country on my Aboriginal passport, and this is the travel document I’m choosing to use.”

“I just kept on insisting I’m an Aboriginal person returning to my country on my Aboriginal passport, and this is the travel document I’m choosing to use.”

In a statement to SBS, immigration said the Australian Government does not recognise the Aboriginal passport as a valid travel document.

“In certain circumstances where a traveller presents at the border and is seeking to enter Australia without a bona-fide travel document, authorities will take action as appropriate to determine the identity of the traveller,” it read.

“If such a person is subsequently confirmed to be an Australian citizen, their entry is permissible; although certain conditions will apply.”

The first country to officially accept the Aboriginal passport was Libya in 1988.  

Tasmanian lawyer Michael Mansell led a group of Aboriginal activists on a visit to challenge Australian sovereignty in the bicentennial year.

“If you think that you belong to an Aboriginal nation, then you have to fight for it”.

“If you think that you belong to an Aboriginal nation, then you have to fight for it,” Mr Mansell told SBS at the time.

“There are ways of doing it without necessarily being violent, and stand up to the government and stand up to the white reaction in this country and you can get away with it.”

Another Aboriginal group in 2012 also started issuing passports, including to asylum seekers, former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mamdouh Habib and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.”

Canadian authorities refused to accept the Aboriginal passport last year, but this is the second time this year that an APG activist has entered the Solomons on one.

When Mr Clayton-Dixon departed for the Solomons from Brisbane his Aboriginal passport was rejected by immigration officials and an Australian passport was produced.

On arrival in the Solomon Islands, he was issued with a six week visitor’s visa in his Aboriginal passport and then an exit stamp on departure.

Both times he was not challenged, despite the Aboriginal passport not being recognised in the country’s Migration Act.

Trevor Long, former Qantas general manager of facilitation, told SBS that the activists were making a political statement.

“But the problem with making a political statement is the vast majority of countries won’t recognise the Aboriginal passport,” he said

“What will happen is if they present an Aboriginal passport in a first-world country and many third-world countries they will not get in and be turned away.”

On departure, Virgin Airlines in the Solomons refused to check-in Mr Clayton-Dixon with the Aboriginal passport and an Australian one was again presented.

Mr Long said it showed the security system for checking passengers heading to Australia works, even in the Solomons.

“What would have happened here is when Virgin started to check the passenger in, they would have collected the data from the passport, sent it in to the immigration service, who would have sent it back saying, ‘we don’t know this passenger and they’re not to board until you get clearance from us,” Mr Long said.

On the three-hour flight to Brisbane, Mr Clayton-Dixon handed his Australian passport to a travel companion.

Presenting the Aboriginal passport at immigration in Brisbane, he was led away and detained.

About an hour later, he was admitted to the country through a side door at the international terminal without officials seeing his Australian passport.

“I suspect the department would get a bit peeved with that and do something about it but, at the end of the day, if they can prove that they are Australians, then they’ll be admitted,” Mr Long said.

Aboriginal Provisional Government activists say they will continue to use their passport.

Source: SBS