23 June, 2015
Joint media release - The Hon Tony Abbott MP, Prime Minister, the Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General
The Government will strip Australian citizenship from dual nationals who engage in terrorism.
Legislation will be introduced into Parliament tomorrow.
We want to ensure terrorists who are dual nationals are prevented from returning to Australia and dual nationals who engage in terrorism within Australia can be removed, where possible.
This Government’s highest priority is to keep the community safe.
The legislation will update the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to ensure dual nationals who serve or fight for terrorist groups, or engage in terrorism-related conduct inspired by terrorist groups, automatically lose their Australian citizenship.
The Act will also be amended to ensure dual nationals who are convicted of specified terrorism-related offences automatically lose their Australian citizenship.
Dual nationals who engage in terrorism are betraying their allegiance to this country and do not deserve to be Australian citizens.
Where dual nationals have been convicted of terrorism-related offences and therefore lose their citizenship, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection can grant an exemption if there is a law enforcement or security imperative.
These provisions will not leave a person stateless and do not exclude the role of the courts. This will enable a person who has lost his or her citizenship to seek legal redress.
The changes modernise our current laws, which strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship if they serve in a foreign army at war with Australia. The world has changed so our laws should change accordingly.
These new laws will be another measure to counter the growing terrorist threat. Since last September, there have been two terrorist attacks inspired by the Daesh death cult. Authorities have disrupted six planned attacks. In only nine months, 23 Australians have been arrested in counter-terrorism operations – as many as the total number of prior terrorism-related convictions from 2001.
The Government will ask the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) to inquire into the Bill and report back to Parliament in early August.
The views of the PJCIS together with feedback from the public consultation process about citizenship more generally will give the Government a sound basis for deciding on further legislation.