Prime Minster Tony Abbott confirmed the government will legislate to strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship if they are involved in terrorism.
Mr Abbott unveiled a new tranche of anti-terrorism laws at a press conference on Tuesday, and said the legislation would be introduced into Parliament within weeks.
He said the government was aware of about 100 Australians fighting with terror groups in the Middle East – with 40-50 per cent of them who “appear to be dual nationals”.
Mr Abbott assured that any decision to strip a dual national of Australian citizenship would be subject to judicial review.
“I want to stress we will be ensuring that as far as we can humanly make it, no-one becomes stateless,” he said.
“This is all about combating terrorism.
“We think this is an important addition to the armoury that we have to keep the Australian people safe.”
He said since 1949 Australians with dual citizenship who fought for a country at war with Australia would have forfeited their citizenship.
“There should be no difference in how we treat Australians who join a hostile army and those who engage in terrorism – both are betraying our country and don’t deserve to be citizens of Australia,” Mr Abbott said.
The Coalition joint party room approved the laws at a meeting on Tuesday, with 19 MPs speaking in the debate but none speaking against the bill.
Immigration and Border Protection Minster Peter Dutton said at Tuesday’s press conference that “holding citizenship is a privilege”.
He said he would take advice from intelligence agencies in making his decisions, but admitted gathering evidence about Australian terrorists would be hard.
“The laws will apply to people who have committed an act of terrorism, prepared for such an act, raised funds or supported terrorism or even indoctrinated young people into extremism,” Mr Dutton said.
The Prime Minster also moved to improve government relations with Muslim leaders and communities at risk of Islamic radicalisation by creating a new role.
He appointed Parliamentary Secretary Concetta Fierravanti-Wells to a new frontbench position with a brief to develop better relations with community leaders and tackle the appeal of jihadist teaching.
Former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock was appointed as Mr Abbott’s special envoy for citizenship and community engagement.
“We have the best system in the world to ensure people are able to settle (in Australia), it’s important that people understand there is a framework,” Mr Ruddock said.
“We do have expectations that all who make a commitment to this nation and its future will observe the laws of Australia – there is nothing new in that.”
On Tuesday morning Attornery-General George Brandis would not comment on the proposed frontbencher position but backed any initiatives to combat this “cultish-behaviour”.
The move is part of the Federal Government’s billion dollar-plus fight against home-grown terror which will be bolstered by two separate counter-terrorism announcements made by the PM on Monday.
The nation’s first counter-terrorism co-ordinator Greg Moriarty was announced to tackle the “terrorist challenge” and “the alarming trend” of youth radicalisation, while Mr Abbott gave Justice Minister Michael Keenan a new role assisting him on counter-terrorism issues.
“Australia currently faces a very serious terror threat and has faced a serious terror threat for quite some time,” the Prime Minister said on Monday.