Prime Minister Tony Abbott has played down another leak about the Government’s proposed changes to citizenship laws.
A Coalition tactics document, published by The West Australian, sets out Question Time talking points defending the plan to strip dual citizens suspected of terrorism of their Australian citizenship.
The legislation, set to be introduced to Parliament within the next fortnight, would hand the powers solely to the immigration minister of the day.
The briefing paper suggests lines ministers could used to pressure Labor over the issue.
“Australians expect us to take every reasonable step to deal with those who are a danger to the community. Does Bill Shorten want a toothless law or one that actually protects the community?” the document said.
“We want to know where Labor stands because none of us should give succour to those who would take up arms against our soldiers or do the Australian people harm.”
Mr Abbott said the leaked notes show the Government’s commitment to national security.
“What the document in question does is demonstrate that this is a Government that is serious about protecting our country, we are absolutely serious about keeping our people safe,” he said.
Mr Abbott did not deny the laws were intended to “wedge” Labor.
“I’m pleased that belatedly the Labor Party said 10 days or so back that they supported these laws in-principle,” he said.
“Let’s see what they do in practice. Our previous legislation has been to some extent watered down because of splits inside the Labor Party here.
“I know that many good people in the Labor Party want to do the right thing.
“Unfortunately, there are some people in the Labor Party who don’t take national security as seriously as they should.”
We don’t want terrorists back: Abbott
The revelation follows last month’s extensive Cabinet leak showing division among senior ministers about a plan that would allow people who only hold Australian citizenship to be stripped of those rights if they could apply for them elsewhere.
The breach prompted the Prime Minister to have what he described as a “come to Jesus moment” with ministers, warning them of the “personal and political” consequences of divulging their discussions.
But Mr Abbott played down the latest leak.
“Again, I know people in Canberra obsess over these things, but as far as the public are concerned they want a Government which is keeping Australia safe,” he said.
“And I want to give every single Australian this assurance: This Government will do what is necessary to keep you safe.
“The reason we are so determined to strip citizenship from terrorists who are dual nationals is we don’t want them coming back.”