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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13282


Mr BANDT (Melbourne) (16:01): I do not know whether I am going to be on my own in this place in doing so, but I will be opposing the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015. I will be opposing this bill because it will do nothing to make Australia safer. It will divide us into two classes of citizens based on whether you have dual nationality or not and it will trash one of the most fundamental principles of civil law and the English constitutional system that we have taken for granted for many years—that is, if you are born in the country, you are a citizen of the country, and it is not the parliament's prerogative to take it away.

If you are born in Australia, you are a citizen of Australia. If you do something wrong by breaking the law, you get prosecuted and, if you are convicted, you get locked up. It is called the rule of law. Under the rule of law you get a trial and, if you are found guilty, you suffer the consequences. That is as it should be. That is the case whether you commit a parking offence, a murder or terrorist-related offences. That is as it should be as well. This bill takes a further step and says: if you commit a certain category of offences and you happen to also be a dual national, the Minister for Immigration and Border Control can decide that you are no longer a citizen.

I do not know that there many people who were born in Australia who would look at the immigration minister at the moment and say, 'I trust him to decide whether I get to remain a citizen or not.' People would say, 'If you are convicted of an offence, you do your time.' If you are convicted of one of the most heinous terrorism related offences, a legitimate terrorist offence where you have been convicted of causing or threatening to cause harm to the Australian people, expect to go away for a long time. That is what most people would expect. But I do not think people would expect to go somewhere we have never gone before—that is, to say that the immigration minister can now, with the stroke of a pen, take away your citizenship as well.

There is absolutely no evidence that this bill is going to make us any safer. Even a moment's reflection would make you understand why. If you are someone who wishes to do so much harm to people in Australia that you want to kill them, plant a bomb or go to the point where perhaps you are prepared to kill yourself, as we have tragically seen around the world far too often recently, do you really think the fact that the immigration minister might be able to take away your citizenship is going to change your mind? If you are prepared to kill yourself as you take out the lives of others around you, a law like this is going to do nothing to stop you from taking that heinous, barbaric step.

That is why, when you scrutinise this bill, you struggle to find any evidence in support of it. But you find many people whose job it is in civil society to stand up to parliamentarians at times when emotion could get the better of this place and say: 'No. Hang on. You need some sober judgement. If you are going to change laws with respect to citizenship, do not breach'—they pleaded with us—'the fundamental principle that someone who was born here remains a citizen unless they choose to voluntarily renounce it. Do not breach that.' That is coming from defenders of some of the most basic legal and human rights institutions in our country. They have come forward and said that this bill is dangerously and irreparably flawed. Coming, as it does, in this current political context, it is deeply unfortunate that we are being asked to pass this bill and rush it through.

In the aftermath of the horrific attacks in Paris, Waleed Aly gave a speech on The Project that I think summarised and spoke to where most of the Australian population is at. It is worth reminding ourselves of what he said because it is germane to exactly this kind of bill and exactly this kind of response from parliamentarians. He said:

…there's no doubt that [Paris] was an Islamist terrorist attack, probably executed under ISIL's flag. What we don't know yet is if the attack was planned, ordered or funded by ISIL's leaders in Syria, because the problem is - this is what ISIL do.

They take credit for any act of terrorism on Western soil so that they appear bigger and tougher than they actually are. They did the same thing last year with the shooting at Canada's Parliament, and when a bloke ran around New York with a hatchet attacking people. And again with the Sydney siege. ISIL didn't control these guys. They were DIY terrorists who recruited themselves, but ISIL don't want you to know that. How do I know? Because ISIL told us that they don't want you to know that in their monthly magazine. In October last year they wrote, "It is important that the killing becomes attributed to patrons of the Islamic State who have obeyed its leadership. This can easily be done with anonymity. Otherwise, crusader media makes such attacks appear to be random killings."

There's a reason ISIL want to appear so powerful. The reality is all the land they control has been taken from weak enemies. They're pinned down by airstrikes and just last weekend they lost a significant part of their territory.

Peter Jennings said:

They really don't have the capacity to hit back against the combat aircraft of the west.

Waleed Aly continued:

ISIL don't want you to know they would be quickly crushed if they ever faced a proper army on a real battlefield. They want you to fear them. They want you to get angry. They want all of us to become hostile. And here's why; ISIL's strategy is to split the world into two camps. It's that black and white. Again we know this because they told us.

Last year they declared, "there is no grayzone in this crusade against the Islamic State, ... the world has split into two encampments, one for the people of faith, the other for the people of disbelief, all in preparation for the final Great War." They want to start World War III; a global war between Muslims and everyone else. That's what they want to create. They want societies like France, and here in Australia, to turn on each other.

They want countries like ours to reject their Muslims AND vilify them.

ISIL leaders would be ecstatic to hear that since the atrocity in Paris, Muslims have been threatened and attacked in England , America, and here in Australia. Because this evil organisation has it in their heads that if they can make Muslims the enemy of the West, then Muslims in France, England, America and here in Australia will have nowhere to turn, but to ISIL. That's exactly what they did in Iraq and now they want to go global. Saying that out loud; it's both dumbfounding in its stupidity and blood-curdling in its barbarity.

We're all feeling a million raging emotions right now. I'm angry at these terrorists. I'm sickened by the violence. I'm crushed for the families that have been left behind. But I won't be manipulated. We all need to come together. I know how that sounds. It's a cliché. But it's also true, because it's exactly what ISIL doesn't want. If you are a member of parliament (or has-been member of parliament), preaching hate at a time when we need love, you're helping ISIL. They've told us that.

If you're a Muslim leader telling your community they have no place here, or a non-Muslim basically saying the same thing, you're helping ISIL. They've told us that. Or whether you're just someone with a Facebook or Twitter account firing off misguided missives of hate, you're just helping ISIL. They've told us that. And I'm pretty sure, right now, none of us want to help these bastards.

That is what the Australian people are feeling, and that is spot on. That is why it is so disappointing that this Tony Abbott era piece of legislation is being brought before the parliament this week, where we are being asked to say, 'Even if you were born here, if you happen to have a dual nationality, you are now going to have less rights than everybody else and the immigration minister can just take away your citizenship.' That is sending precisely the wrong message at precisely the wrong time. It is exactly in these moments that we must defend the principles that are under attack. Those principles include a very basic one which is that if you are born in a country, you are a citizen of that country, and it is not up to a minister of the day to decide to take that away. Do something wrong and expect to be prosecuted; expect even to go to jail—potentially, for a very long time. But to say all of a sudden, 'You are now no longer a citizen,' is, everyone else is telling us, a bridge too far.

I urge the government to listen to what the Prime Minister said at the start of question time today, because that was the response, in many respects, that people were looking for. That is exactly the kind of response that the country wants. The country does not want us to start creating two classes of citizens. The country does not want us in this parliament to start giving up the basic rights that have been fought for and that now, many are arguing, are under attack.

I am not prepared to give up a fundamental principle about the relationship between citizens and the state. I am prepared to join with every other member, I think, of this parliament to say that people who want to do us harm deserve to have the full force of the law brought down on them. But this legislation is not going to make us safer. It is going to divide people and it is a bridge too far.