Abbott has been in several kinds of trouble over his latest idea about stripping terrorists of their citizenship.
Firstly according to the SMH there was a suspicion that The Telegraph had been briefed about the Cabinet proposal. Cabinet met at 7 pm on Monday night. A report about the government plans appeared next morning in the Tele. Cabinet members had not seen the 6-page proposal or document prior to meeting – the second cause of Abbott’s troubles. Cabinet ministers did not appreciate having such an important matter sprung on them.
Thirdly, six ministers, Kevin Andrews, Julie Bishop, George Brandis, Barnaby Joyce, Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull, spoke against the proposal in a reportedly “tense and sometimes heated” exchange.
The position was explained very clearly by Michelle Grattan, who said that sources had confirmed the Fairfax report:
- The government will soon introduce legislation to give the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, wide discretionary power to strip Australian citizenship from dual nationals involved in terrorist activities.
The minister – whose decision would be subject to judicial review – could act even though the person had not been convicted of a crime. The measure would apply to many Australians fighting abroad who have dual nationality and to people locally who become involved in terrorist activity.
About 40-50 of the about 100 Australians foreign fighters are dual citizens.(Emphasis added)
That much seems to have been agreed by Cabinet.
At issue is a further proposal about the revocation of citizenship of Australians where there are grounds to believe the person could subsequently become a national of another country. That proposal is now to be discussed with ethnic community groups. Philip Ruddock has now been appointed as Abbott’s special envoy for citizenship and community engagement. Ruddock and a parliamentary secretary, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, will lead “a national consultation to improve understanding of the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship”.
I’m with Ben Saul, Professor of International Law at The University of Sydney, who thinks the whole proposal is simplistic and dangerous. Saul raises many important points, but essentially if they are Australians, we own them and should be responsible for bringing them to justice under the law.
Moreover, the powers are discretionary, and inappropriate for a minister of the crown to exercise. What definitions of terrorism does the Minister use, and what evidence? Saul says:
- The UN recently found that Australia’s existing security assessment procedures do not comply with international human rights law.
Let’s hope Labor does not support this nonsense to avoid being wedged. Or something.