Peter Dutton has pushed for a rewrite of “broken” foreign fighter laws while pitching his vision for a safer, more secure Australia.
In his first major speech since taking on the new Home Affairs mega-portfolio, Mr Dutton has told the National Press Club that laws stripping dual-national fighters of their Australian citizenship needed a major overhaul.
“I am concerned that legislation to strip the Australian citizenship of dual nationals engaged in terrorism is not working as it should,” he said in Canberra on Wednesday.
“We know there are dual citizens among Australians fighting with terrorists in the Middle East and yet officials have so far confirmed only one has lost their citizenship”
Mr Dutton said Australia would not consider walking away from international treaties or obligations in its pursuit of foreign fighters, but would instead look to tweak domestic laws, mindful of constitutional restrictions.
He said it was easier to strip Australian citizenship from dual nationals who failed to disclose criminal convictions on application forms than for somebody who fought for Islamic State in the Middle East.
“I don’t think that passes the pub test or the common sense test,” Mr Dutton said.
I am working closely with the department, we aren’t going to render people stateless, and we’ll meet those (international) obligations as we’ve committed to.”
He also signalled plans for Australian officers to work more closely with allies in the Middle East and Indonesia to capture foreign fighters attempting to return home.
“The government is determined to deal with these people as far from our shores as possible, to ensure that if they do return, it is with forewarning and into the hands of authorities,” Mr Dutton said.