Once a non-alien, always a non-alien?

High Court. Plaintiff was born in what is now Malta in 1945, as a British subject. He then entered Australia in 1948 and became a UK citizen in 1949, retaining the status of a British subject. He held an absorbed person visa since 1994, until that visa was cancelled. He was never naturalised Australian and his parents were not Australian citizens. Can it be said that, because the Plaintiff had the status of a British subject when he arrived in Australia, he could not then have been conceived of as an "alien", with the result that he thereby acquired the status of a non-alien and therefore that he remains outside the reach of s 51(xix) of the Constitution?

Some of the questions to the High Court (HCA) were as follows:

Question 1: Can it be said that, because the plaintiff had the status of a British subject when he arrived in Australia, he could not then have been conceived of as an "alien", with the result that he thereby acquired the status of a non-alien and therefore that he remains outside the reach of s 51(xix) of the Constitution?

Question 2: If the answer to Question 2 is "no", would the position be different if the plaintiff had become an Australian citizen?

Question 3: Does it make a difference that the plaintiff was a British subject at the time of entry into Austrlia, and so ex hypothesi might not then have been conceived of as an alien in the ordinary understanding of the term?

Question 4: Can it be said that, at least by reason of the enactment of the Statute of Westminster Adoption Act 1943, Australia became sufficiently independent of the UK to be regarded as an independent sovereign nation, with the result that the plaintiff was an alien when he arrived in Australia?

The HCA answered those questions as follows:

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