The Federal Government has introduced into Parliament its bill that would see dual national terrorists forfeit their Australian citizenship.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton tabled the bill this morning, telling the House of Representatives it would help bring citizenship laws up-to-date.
“It is now appropriate to modernise provisions concerning loss of citizenship to respond to current terrorist threats,” Mr Dutton said.
“The world has changed so our laws should change accordingly.”
The Government originally wanted to give the immigration minister power to revoke citizenship without conviction, but the plan was revised after concerns it could have breached the constitution.
The legislation would see people automatically renounce their citizenship under section 33 of the Citizenship Act if they engage in terrorist acts, training, recruiting or financing inside or outside Australia.
The new section 35 would see citizenship automatically cease if a person serves a declared terrorist organisation overseas, or is found guilty of offences including treason, espionage, terrorism and foreign incursions.
“We face a heightened and complex security environment — regrettably some of the most pressing threats to the security of the nation and the safety of the nation come to citizens engaged in terrorism,” Mr Dutton said.
“The intention of the changes is the protection of the community and the upholding of its values rather than punishing people for terrorist or hostile acts.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten earlier this morning said Labor had not yet received a briefing, but supported the principle behind the bill.
“We have said that we will do whatever is necessary to fight terror abroad and at home. We’ve said that we support the principle of the extension of denying Australian citizenship to dual citizens if they take up arms against Australia,” Mr Shorten said.
“What matters in national security is having laws that actually work.”
Legislation could apply to retrospective offences
The measure will now be examined by the Parliament’s security and intelligence committee, which will look at whether it can apply retrospectively.
“At the moment we’ve got people in jail in Australia for terrorist offences who are dual nationals and the question will be what should happen to them when they’re released,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Nine.
“I think a lot of people would regard them as people who should be deported, but let’s see what the committee says.”
Labor said it was willing to consider the law applying retrospectively.
“We wait to see the laws and what’s in them, and we have an open mind,” Mr Shorten said.
A proposal to strip Australians without another nationality of their citizenship was raised in an extensively leaked Cabinet meeting but pushed into a discussion paper.
“We will have more to say on this subject in the months to come,” Mr Abbott told Seven.
“Obviously, as far as I’m concerned, as far as I think most Australians are concerned, people who leave this country to fight for terrorist groups overseas, that hate us and are targeting us, have committed the modern form of treason and perhaps we need a modern form of banishment to deal with such people.”