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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13323


Dr JENSEN (Tangney) (19:08): The coalition government was elected in September 2013 with a mandate to deliver strong government to guarantee a safe, secure Australia. This bill, the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015, is about implementing that promise to the Australian people.

Australian citizens have a fundamental responsibility to uphold the values and interests of our country. Irrespective of how one became a citizen, citizenship is a contract of rights and responsibilities. A person cannot uphold their responsibilities as an Australian citizen while they have pledged allegiance or support to a body that is contrary to Australia's interests or values.

This bill seeks to deal with the issue of dual citizens committing treasonous acts against Australia. Effectively, this bill will update the existing citizenship protection and integrity measures framework. Citizenship should not be devalued, and obtaining citizenship should not protect or facilitate illegality. As it stands, if a dual national were to fight with another country's regular standing army against Australia, they would immediately forfeit their Australian citizenship.

The nature of war has changed since the original act came into being. We need laws that reflect today's terrifying times. The most common form of warfare in operation across the globe is warfare conducted by non-state actors. I remind my colleagues that we are at war with a murderous terrorist organisation, ISIS, seeking a global caliphate. War of this kind is not subject to international agreements, rules or protocols. I am not advocating a fighting-fire-with-fire or an eye-for-an-eye approach; I am simply invoking consideration of the changed nature of the threat that our nation faces. It is war, but not as we know it. It is asymmetric. It is brutal. It is everywhere.

We have seen terrible incidents in the recent past where Australian citizens have been directly affected by terrorism. It has never been easier to move throughout the world, and with that comes an ease in calling new countries 'home'. Some of the greatest threats are posed by citizens here at home. This bill is a measured and appropriate response.

Indeed, we are not alone in taking these measures against enemy dual nationals that commit or deign to commit acts of treason against our country. Some of our strongest and most natural allies, such as the UK and Canada, have similar penalties. The Turnbull government have consulted and benchmarked against best practice internationally.

It is important that we as a country and as a government are determined to prevent radicalised people from roaming our streets. If people intend to become involved in terrorism, then they no longer have allegiance to Australia and their responsibilities as an Australian citizen have been compromised. Actions speak louder than words. I welcome this codifying of our community values and expectations. I add at this point that this bill in no way abrogates our responsibilities under the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

Earlier this year, I spoke on the Migration Amendment (Character and Visa Cancellation) Bill. I welcomed that critical and timely piece of national security legislation then and, likewise, I welcome today's further enhancement. The visa cancellation bill is important to understanding how and where today's debate fits into the legislative landscape and time line. Because of the amendments enacted in that bill, the government is now able to act where there is a risk, as opposed to a 'significant risk', that a person might engage in a wide range of criminal conduct. Reasonable suspicion that a person is or has been associated with a group involved in criminal conduct is sufficient reason to refuse a visa. Such conduct includes people smuggling, genocide, war crimes, crimes involving torture or slavery and crimes that are otherwise of serious international concern even if there has been no actual conviction.

There should be no shame in saying that we have values and principles and that this Liberal government is willing to stand up for them. Under the previous six years of Labor misrule and chaotic misgovernment, the balance of rights and responsibilities became a question of rights only. By turning a blind eye to gross and aberrant characters and by accepting all in good faith, we expose our people to unknown dangers. Enoch Powell's 'rivers of blood' may not have run, but that is because of the strong actions taken by successive Conservative governments. I am proud to be part of a government that is bold in its actions and resolute in its decisions.

The Abbott coalition government delivered a national security statement that outlined the government's response to the national Review of Australia's Counter-Terrorism Machinery for a Safer Australia. This review found that the number of foreign fighters is increasing, along with the number of sympathisers and supporters of extremists. With the number of potential terrorists rising, it is important that law and justice agencies have the tools to deal with the threats they pose.

Under section 35 of the Migration Act 1958, it is already law that any dual citizen who fights against Australia in a foreign army will have their citizenship revoked. The expansion of that section merely addresses the modern-day threat to Australians, that being the threat of terrorism by non-state actors and non-aligned individuals. Section 35 is self-executing and ensures that citizenship will be stripped from a person who fights on behalf of or in service to a terrorist organisation. Section 33 operates so as to ensure that only dual citizens will lose their citizenship. The amendments safeguard against a person becoming stateless. They also propose that the offence must be terrorism related and must indicate that a person has acted against their allegiance to Australia. If one looks to the societal constructs of Rousseau or Locke, there it is on line 1: protect the bodily integrity of each citizen and the integrity of the state. Even the visual idea of a contract is relevant to this debate surrounding cancelling citizenship and making it easier for the minister to do so. After all, the Australian government is honouring its side of the contract or deal by protecting the bodily integrity and security of the person, but some people are not living up to their side of the deal. The deal is that if one comes to this country then one has to play by the rules as they stand, not change the rules because one does not like the rules. I put it to the House that the greatest liberty that a state can protect is life. Our primary responsibility as legislators in this place is to protect the citizens of Australia.

The changes outlined in the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 and amendments to the Migration Act are the first real attempt to update the security and protection features of visa and citizenship programs since the mid-1990s. With respect to visa grants, having weak and low thresholds for the character tests dilutes the nature of our system and costs us all more in the long run. Today we should be cognisant of the fact that citizenship is the second act of a two-act play. It is the icing on the cake. Looking at the first part of the equation—that is, visa grant—is also exceptionally important. I am proud that our coalition government has gone about the task efficiently and effectively. I and all the coalition know that security is an expensive business, prevention is always better than cure and prevention is always cheaper than cure. The people we seek to remove from the Australian community or ban from entering the Australian community in the first place are people who are freedom haters. They hate us because we Australians love freedom. It is not enough to have an Australian residency visa to be an Australian. One needs to live Australian—live the values, live the hopes and live the dreams. One needs to embrace the history of Australia. We will not and cannot let this nation ever become known as a soft touch.

ISIS have waged war in two countries, seeking to exterminate minorities and subjugate those left alive. They have captured and beheaded Western journalists and aid workers with glee. They have killed, raped, looted and burned their way through town after town. Anything we can do to prevent the flow of Australian jihadists to this area is a win for Australia. Look at the steady flow of footage and photographs of the beheadings, the mass murders, the shallow graves and the firing squads. When I saw the footage of ISIS militants murdering Shi'ites, Kurds, Yazidis and Christians, I could not help but be shocked by the stark likeness of their crimes to those of Nazis generations before them. While in the 1940s it was the SS smiling over bodies of the slain, now it is the jihadist, the thug, the barbarian, the so-called Islamic State. Herein lies the danger for Australia: we have our own citizens choosing to join these Islamic fascists. They cannot be rehabilitated; they do not go back to their day jobs and forget their days of jihad and murder. With every Australian who heeds the call to join ISIS, there is another foot soldier for their evil campaign. For every fighter who returns, Australia gains a new terrorist, a new trained killer, a new traitor, a new quisling.

For those who question the dangers of 100 or so terrorist killers in our midst, I tell you this: all you need are a few people hell-bent on causing you and your country pain and grief. On September 11, 19 people killed 3,000 and changed the skyline of one of the well-known and loved cities of the world. It took only a handful of people to claim 202 lives, of whom 88 were Australian, in the Bali bombing. The Boston Marathon killings, which robbed three people of their lives and injured a further 250, were the work of only two madmen. There is no better reminder of the destructive nature of even a single terrorist than we have seen in Canada. In a city like this, it took only one man to kill a soldier performing his solemn duty at the Canadian war memorial and to storm the parliament with murderous intent, injuring a further three people in the fight. All of these attacks could have been much worse with casualty lists often coming down to fate more than anything else.

But something we can do about this is to try to prevent it happening in the first place. This bill is one step forward. It has been extremely distressing to see report after report in the papers and in the news of the numbers of Australians suspected to be fighting with ISIS. It is tragic and yet terrifying that over 100 Australian citizens are over there, engaging in murderous acts of unspeakable barbarity. Even more concerning, however, are reports that potentially dozens of these fighters have returned to Australia. These people, these trained and experienced masters of depravity, are now living in the same streets as you or I. They are visiting the same shops, taking the same buses and mixing in the same spaces as our wives and husbands, our partners, our siblings, our parents, our children and our friends. But it would be foolish to think that these people could commit mass murder and beheadings one day and go back to their day jobs the next. It would be even more foolish to believe that they have not returned with the means and know-how to carry out their depraved and murderous desires.

This bill will be the next step in our fight against ISIS. I counsel that others pay heed to US President Thomas Jefferson when he said, 'The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.' In the final analysis, our Prime Minister would be wise to heed the words of another former US President Ronald Reagan. He said:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same …

Let's acknowledge that freedom is not free. Someone, somewhere, always pays the price.