DUAL NATIONALITY BRITISH NATIONALS WITH DUAL NATIONALITY CALLED UP FOR MILITArY SERVICE IN FOREIGN COUNTRY: LACK OF entitleMENT to British diplomatic protection IN COUNTRY OF SECOND NATIONALITY: exercise by foreign power of jurisdiction over British subjects while in Australia: COMMONWEALTH PRACTICE IN RELATION TO BRITISH SUBJECTS IN AUSTRALIA CALLED UP FOR FOREIGN SERVICE
I have received your letter dated 29th April, 1940, relating to the position of three young men living in Adelaide who have been called up for French military service, and assure you that I do not in any way regard it as an impertinence for you to write to me thereon.
I have made inquiries from the Department of External Affairs and am informed that the practice is for the Commonwealth Government to warn all Australians possessing dual nationality who intend leaving the country, that they will not be entitled to British diplomatic protection in the country of their second nationality, and that on entry into that country they will not be exempt from liability to any military service required of the nationals of that country. On the other hand, the Commonwealth Government has not recognized the right of any foreign power to exercise jurisdiction over British subjects while in Australia, as situations of great complexity would arise if some British subjects were liable to be held to obligations from which other British subjects were exempt.
While, therefore, the Commonwealth Government does not dispute the right of the French Government to call up for military service persons who under French law are French subjects even though they are also British subjects under Australian law, it feels that any decision of such persons to return to French territory must be voluntary and taken in full knowledge of their rights as British subjects to refuse to leave Australia.
If persons of the class in question decided voluntarily to comply with any instruction by the French Government to enter upon French military service, the Commonwealth Government raises no objection to their leaving the country, on the understanding that, when they apply for their passports they will be informed of their rights as British subjects in Australia, and of the decision of the Commonwealth Government, but no objection is raised if they proceed abroad of their own accord.
The position as outlined above might, of course, be subject to modification in the event of any treaty or other arrangement being entered into between the Commonwealth and France relating to military service of Frenchmen in Australia and Australians in France. The difficulty in the way of concluding any such treaty or arrangement is, of course, that military service is compulsory in France but not in Australia.
If there is any further advice or help I can give you in connexion with this matter I shall be glad if you will let me know.
[Vol. 33, p. 172]