In its final night for the year, Parliament passed legislation that will strip Australian citizenship from dual citizens who are involved in terrorist conduct overseas or convicted of terrorism activity.
The bill provides for dual citizens to lose their citizenship in two new ways: by engaging in conduct deemed to amount to a renunciation of citizenship, or by being convicted of a prescribed offence.
A statement from the office of the minister of immigration noted that theAustralian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 aims to ensure terrorists who are dual nationals are prevented from returning to Australia and dual nationals who engage in terrorism within Australia can be removed where possible.
“The changes to the existing legislation were necessary to reflect the current threat that Australia and the rest of the world faces” notes the statement adding that, “Australia’s current threat level is now at ‘probable’ – meaning that there is credible intelligence assessed by our security agencies that indicates individuals or groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.
“Dual nationals who engage in terrorism are betraying their allegiance to this country and do not deserve to be Australian citizens. The Governments highest priority has been and will always be keeping Australians and the community safe and secure.” Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton’s statement.
Greens and independent senator Nick Xenophon said that the changes to the citizenship laws could expose Australians to more terrorism.
“Ultimately we think the safest place for Australian citizens who have been convicted of violent acts, who are indeed criminals, is in custody here in Australia, not roaming the international stage,” Greens leader Richard Di Natale said.
Senator Xenophon said the proposed changes were inconsistent with an earlier national security bill, which aimed to prevent Australians travelling overseas as foreign fighters.
“The Government said we shouldn’t let people go overseas to fight, to be involved in terrorist attacks and we should keep them here, but this bill is saying if you’re overseas, we don’t want you back in the country,” he said.
Some analysts, have indicated that the new laws are likely to face a constitutional challenge on the grounds that the minister would be “the effective decision maker” in the cancellation process, and this could be characterised as an exercise of judicial power.
Source: Migration Alliance