Stripping citizenship “happens automatically by action of law”

Tomy Abbott told Radio National’s PM program that there are two ways of removing citizenship of people engaged in terrorism:

    One is renunciation by conduct, so if you engage in terrorism against Australia, as is currently the case with Section 35 in respect of a foreign army, you will automatically forfeit your citizenship.

    The other is revocation by conviction, so if you are convicted of a terrorist offense, again, there will be an assumption that your Australian citizenship is forfeit should you be a dual national.

    Far as this humanly possible, the forfeiture of citizenship by terrorists who are dual nationals happens automatically by action of law.

    Either of these circumstances could apply to people onshore or offshore but much more typically it would be renunciation by conduct offshore and revocation by conviction onshore. (Emphasis added)

Yet someone must take action to cancel the passport, remove the name from the electoral roll or whatever of a specific person. Julie Bishop confirmed that it would happen by bureaucratic rather than ministerial action.

Nick Xenephon wants to bring them back and deal with them here, perhaps lock them up forever. Easier said than done.

Richard Di Natale says its not where the main game is at. We should be bringing the community together to prevent this stuff happening in the first place.

Michael Bradley, managing partner of Marque Lawyers, a Sydney law firm, thinks the whole exercise is a distraction, and with little practical effect. Certainly if someone is fighting in support of ISIS in Syria or Iraq our stripping citizenship will have little consequence.

In my earlier post I linked to a piece by Professor Ben Saul. The issues he raised still seem relevant. How will engaging in terrorism be defined? Will cancelling their passport effectively render them stateless?

He thinks we should deal with our citizens maturely rather than move them on to others.

His bottom line:

    Terrorists are, in the end, still Australians. The citizenry is above government, not vice versa. Once citizenship is granted, the die is cast. All citizens are equal and must be accepted for all time, warts and all. We have to take responsibility for our fellow Australians, not turn a blind eye to their efforts to kill people in other countries.

I’m predicting Labor will agree to the proposed law, to avoid appearing soft on terrorism. I suspect it will be against the better judgement of shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.

5 thoughts on “Stripping citizenship “happens automatically by action of law””

  1. Labor seems to have been conned into accepting the the questionable idea that the threat of losing citizenship will somehow reduce the threat of terrorism. As a result Labor has been trapped into arguing about the details instead challenging the need to reintroduce the medieval punishment of exiling.
    The key arguments against the policy include:
    1. It is unfair because it can only be used against a limited number of Australian citizens.
    2. If anything, the very unfairness of the new punishment combined with Don Tony’s wink, wink, nod, nod message that it is all about those Muslims is more likely to encourage a idealist to want to fight against Don Tony.
    3. It seems unlikely that the threat of loss of citizenship will make much difference. Removing citizenship seems to be more about vote winning symbolism than anything else.

  2. I want to know how these laws affect people who go to Israel to join the IDF (a “foreign army”). There’s been more than a few of them.
    Obviously it must depend on which foreign armies our government defines as terrorists, and being Islamic surely isn’t enough. Saudi Arabia has armed forces and it’s not a terrorist state nosiree bob; it can’t be because the US is on friendly terms with them.
    I agree with John. This is a cynical attempt to win votes (and it will probably work).

  3. Zoot: It is easy. Terrorists are people who haven’t got an air force. Doesn’t matter if they are fighting to drive invaders out of their country or battling against the forces of evil. No air force=terrorist.
    The Zionist terrorists who convinced Britain to get out of Palestine were terrorists for that reason.
    On the other hand Bin Laden wasn’t a terrorist when he was the US friend fighting to drive Russia out of Afghanistan.
    It is also worth noting that we allowed people who had been German soldiers to move to Australia after WWII. One of the things I object to about what Don Tony is doing is this once an enemy always an enemy obsession. Then again Don Tony isn’t into nuance.

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