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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13333

Mr RAMSEY (Grey) (19:53): At the moment, it looks as though the world is in unprecedented turmoil—North Korea, Sudan, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, the shocking atrocities in France and Mali and the planned atrocities in Germany and Belgium which mercifully seem to have perhaps been averted now, and of course the Russian airliner bombed out of the air over Egypt.

You have to ask yourself the question: has world security ever been so bad? Of course, it has. As bad as it is now, it has been worse in the past. It is 101 years since the beginning of World War I and it is 76 years since World War II broke out. In that context, the current crisis the world is in does not look so bad. But the game has changed dramatically. Whereas those wars were confined to travel options on the ground, the tools of war and insurgency have changed so much. Terrorist organisations can now reach right around the world and virtually into our living rooms through technology—through the internet and social media—with things like plastic explosives and fanaticism that most of us cannot even start to comprehend. We have enemies now who would rather die for their cause than live. How does any civilised society combat someone who would rather die for their cause than live? Pretty much through human history we have worked under the theory that in the end people have a sense of self-preservation. So when someone is intent on killing themselves, as we see with suicide bombers, it is almost impossible to have a perfect defence against such tactics. That means that we must continually adjust the way we deal with our enemies and the way we approach impending threats to our borders.

Throughout our history, Australia has welcomed immigrants and refugees from all over the world; in fact, our population has been built on this. We form a wonderful cohesive conglomeration of nationalities and of peoples who have come from all over the world. Apart from our first peoples—the Aboriginals; the Indigenous people of Australia—we have all come from afar. It is great to be Australian. It is a very privileged position to be an Australian—perhaps one of the greatest privileges in the world—because there are no barriers to race, there are no barriers to nationality, there are no barriers to creed and there are no barriers to religion; all we ask is that you be loyal to Australia, to our laws, to our rules and to our institutions. From the day a new citizen takes the oath to Australia, they are eligible to become Prime Minister and they are eligible for any job in Australia; there are no restrictions—except, if I were to bring in the monarchy debate, they could not be king in Australia. To leave that to one side, there are no restrictions. We offer full citizenship, but it comes with an obligation. In return for citizenship, we ask loyalty. We grant citizenship and there are no strings attached except loyalty. The newest Australian has that same commitment as every other Australian—as those of us who were born here.

When citizens display disloyalty to this country, which they may still well claim to be their home, and are working in the interests of other states, how can we call them Australians? In my mind, they have forfeited their rights to be Australian. No-one should be permitted to devalue what it means to be Australian; that is unfair to citizens that express nothing but loyalty to, and pride in, their country. This should be true of any society that seeks to uphold what it means to be a citizen of their country. Unfortunately, for instance, Belgium is going through this exact situation at present in the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, with Belgian nationals, people who call themselves Belgians and who had been welcomed into Belgium society, committing these heinous crimes against their fellow countrymen and their neighbours. In this instance, I say that these perpetrators are not Belgians and they are not interested in being full participants in its society. Just the same can be said of Australian citizens who engage in 'conduct which is inconsistent with allegiance to Australia,' as the amendments in this bill state.

There are currently approximately 110 Australian citizens fighting in Syria or engaged with terrorist organisations. To me these 110 people are rejecting what it means to be Australian. They do not uphold the privilege to be Australian, and they are not displaying a commitment to the Australian way of life. They are obviously not interested in our values. Instead, they are pursuing a way of life that is not conducive to what we aim to achieve here—a productive and peaceful society rather than a segregated one. In fact, they seek to destroy us. Already their tentacles have reached back into Australia. Look at the most recent examples: the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place; the knife attack on the two police officers in Melbourne, which was, incidentally, planned to be a beheading; and the shooting of Curtis Cheng, a good, honest man, employed by the New South Wales police, just going about his daily duties at the Parramatta police station.

This bill is only aimed at those who hold dual citizenship. Some of those 110 people in Syria that claim to be Australian—in fact, unfortunately, they are—will hold only Australian citizenship, and, as much as I feel in my soul I want to disown them, we cannot. It is not reasonable or responsible to render people stateless. Just in terms of dealing with our international relationships, you could imagine that, if we cancelled someone's citizenship and they were stuck in an airport somewhere on the other side of the world and that country was saying, 'We don't want them,' and we are saying, 'We don't want them,' and no one owns them, it will just lead to anarchy between nations.

A phrase I used in our own party room—and you may well remember, Mr Deputy Speaker Vasta—was, 'In the end, I think we are all responsible for our own garbage.' That is the case with those who are solely Australian citizens. They are our garbage, unfortunately, and it is our responsibility to deal with them. But in the case of this bill, I guess you could say they are shared garbage, particularly if they have come here and taken a second, Australian citizenship. These individuals have sworn allegiance to Australia. If they are conducting an act of war against us, they have broken the pledge. They have broken the pledge, not Australia, so we will terminate that pledge and say, 'We no longer owe you loyalty.' This bill sets the parameters of this mechanism, if you like—how and why it works. It has been to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, and a raft of recommendations, which the government has accepted, have resulted from that process. So it should, and does, command broad support.

The people on the street—or, where I come from, sometimes out in the paddock—are asking for action. They are absolutely looking for the government to stand up and do something, and many of them would like it to go much, much further. We have responsibilities in the international sense, and I touched on how we owe a responsibility to our people who are solely Australian citizens. Those people want to know the Australian government is doing absolutely everything it can to make Australia safe, that the Federal Police and ASIO have the resources they need, that the border protection policies of Australia are strong and sound and that our immigration department is up to the task of dealing with those people who would like to come to Australia and making sure that we have quality options, and that those we allow to become Australians are those we can trust and who deserve to become Australians. As a nation, we need to uphold the values and the safety of those who are loyal to Australia—those who are proud to call themselves Australian and would die in patriotism for this country, not those who would die in battle against us.

The removal of citizenship for dual citizens is, indeed, at the end of the day, a small step in what is going to be a very, very long campaign. The war on terrorism is an ongoing war which this nation and the other civilised nations of the world will have to wage for many years. There are no silver bullets in this game. But this, I think, sends a very strong message—and that is probably one of the most important parts of the legislation—that we will not tolerate this behaviour. If you have dual citizenship, you will lose your citizenship. If you are solely an Australian citizen, we will accept you back, but you will not be having a very nice life when you get back here. You will be spending some time looking at the bars of a prison, because we just cannot tolerate this threat. Worldwide, we must stand as one against this disgusting and morally repugnant attack on civilised societies. I commend the bill.