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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13340


Mr HOGAN (Page) (20:24): Being an Australian citizen is a privilege. Any person engaged in terrorist activities against the values we hold as Australians does not deserve to be a citizen of Australia. Islamist extremists are insulted by our way of life. They are insulted by our freedoms, they are insulted by the separation of church and state, they are insulted by equality for women and there are many other values that they are not happy with. I say with great sincerity to extremists who are insulted by these Australian values, and indeed the values of a lot of Western countries, that if you are not happy with them I encourage you to leave and go and live in countries where the values that they hold are more congruent with your values. If you are a dual citizen taking up arms against us in places overseas, as many are, then stripping you of your citizenship is a very good idea and I commend the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill to the House.

I would like to quote Sir Edmund Barton on being an immigrant and an Australian. This is from 1907: 'In the first place, we should insist that if an immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an Australian and assimilates themselves to us, they shall be treated on exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such person because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an Australian and nothing but an Australian. There can be no divided allegiance here. Any person who says they are an Australian, but something else also, isn't an Australian at all. We have room for but one flag, the Australian flag. We have room for one language here and that is the English language. And we have room for one sole loyalty and that is loyalty to the Australian people.' Every Australian needs to understand that this is what our country is. Let our politicians enforce what our first Prime Minister believed.

Obviously we have become more lenient, and dual citizenship is something that is often encouraged. As we have become more multicultural we obviously encourage and are happy for our country to have many languages. We are the richer for that—many languages are spoken in our country and obviously dual citizens are welcome here, because of course Australian citizens can also be dual citizens in other countries. But the basic premise of that statement is still there, and that is allegiance and congruency with the values that we have.

Why has this bill come before this House? The first time this issue came into the consciousness of most Australians, and most people throughout the world, was the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York back in 2001. There were some events before that, but since that date we have all been very conscious of the different terrorist attacks in the name of religion, but, as we know, those people are doing their own religion a great disservice. We have had the Bali bombings, we have had the Lindt cafe, we have had the shooting of the police staffer a number of weeks ago—there are many examples, including the Paris terrorist attacks last week. Australia's security agency is managing over 400 high-priority counter-terrorism investigations—this has doubled since early 2014—and we have, we think, around 110 Australians currently fighting with or engaged with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq. The importance of this cannot be overstated. We have to make it very clear to all people in this country and all organisations, and 99.9 per cent of them are congruent with our values, that we do hold certain values and certain democratic principles very dear to the success and the freedoms of this country, and groups and extremists that are not aligned with these values are, as I say, encouraged to leave and go to countries where they feel the values are more congruent with their own beliefs.

Obviously since this bill was drafted there have been a few variations, but it remains related to dual citizens. People who are citizens only of Australia will still be coming back to Australia if they have been involved in these activities, but we will certainly be laying charges and their life will not be that pleasant when they come back. This bill amends the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to insert a purpose clause setting out the fundamental principles upon which the amending legislation is based. The bill outlines the circumstances in which a dual citizen ceases to be an Australian citizen through their engagement in terrorism-related activities and it outlines the circumstances in which the minister may exempt a person from the operation of the bill. It provides for reporting on and monitoring of the arrangements in the bill and provides for the protection of sensitive or prejudicial information in relation to that reporting and monitoring and related matters.

The bill applies to a person who is a dual national, regardless of how the person became an Australian citizen, including a person who became an Australian citizen upon birth. The bill was referred to the Parliamentary Joint Committee for Intelligence and Security in June 2015 for inquiry and report. The committee tabled its report in September 2015. The committee made 27 recommendations for amendment to the bill and explanatory memorandum. The government amendments are proposed to the bill and explanatory memorandum in response to those recommendations.

Element 1 is the renunciation by conduct, which provides that a person who is a national or a citizen of a country other than Australia renounces their Australian citizenship if they act inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia by engaging in specified conduct. The relevant conduct is:

(a) engaging in international terrorist activities using explosive or lethal devices;

(b) engaging in a terrorist act;

(c) providing or receiving training connected with preparation for, engagement in, or assistance in a terrorist act;

(d) directing the activities of a terrorist organisation;

(e) recruiting for a terrorist organisation;

(f) financing terrorism;

(g) financing a terrorist;

(h) engaging in foreign incursions and recruitment.

The government amendments to the bill provide that the conduct provisions are limited to individuals who have engaged in relevant conduct offshore or have engaged in relevant conduct onshore and have left Australia before being charged and brought to trial in respect of that conduct. The amended bill provides that the conduct provisions only apply if the conduct is engaged in with specified intentions, such as with the intention of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause, with the intention of supporting, promoting or engaging in a hostile activity in another country or on the instructions of a declared terrorist organisation.

Element 2 is that the person fights for, or is in the service of, a declared terrorist organisation. Since the law came into force in 1949 it has provided for the automatic loss of citizenship where a person serves in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia. This bill expands the section to provide for the automatic cessation of citizenship if a person who is also a citizen of another country is overseas and fights for, or is in the service of, a declared terrorist organisation. A declared terrorist organisation will be a subset of those which are listed for the purposes of terrorism offences under the Criminal Code.

As amended, the bill provides that the minister, by legislative instrument, may declare a terrorist organisation for the purposes of this section where the organisation is directly or indirectly engaged in preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act, or advocates the doing of a terrorist act, and is opposed to Australia or to Australia's interests, values, democratic beliefs, rights or liberties, so that, if a person were to fight for or be in the service of such an organisation, the person would be acting inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia. The provisions in relation to being in the service of a declared terrorist organisation do not apply to acts that are unintentional, under duress or for the purposes of independent humanitarian assistance. A declaration by the minister of a declared terrorist organisation is reviewable by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

Element 3 is conviction for terrorism and related offences. As now amended, the section provides a power for the minister to determine a person's citizenship has been lost once they have been convicted of a relevant offence and upon consideration of relevant criteria. Loss of citizenship is not automatic upon the conviction. Following the recommendations, the list of offences is limited to the most relevant terrorism related offences with a maximum penalty of 10 years or more. Offences or incursions into foreign states with the intention of engaging in hostile activities have also been included through the amendments. This replicates provisions under the repealed Crimes Act and is important in ensuring the bill is as effective as possible, given the activities of terrorists overseas. To be considered under this section, a person must be sentenced to at least six years imprisonment or to periods of imprisonment that total at least six years.

This provision relies on a court having determined criminal guilt. The relevant offences include convictions for treason, espionage, terrorism, treachery, sabotage, and foreign incursions and recruitment. The person ceases to be an Australian citizen at the time a determination is made by the minister. In making a determination the minister must be satisfied that the conduct of the person or related convictions demonstrate that the person has repudiated their allegiance to Australia and that it is not in the public interest for the person to remain an Australian citizen, having regard to the following factors: the severity of the conduct that was the basis of the conviction or convictions and the sentence or sentences, the degree of threat posed by the person to the Australian community, the age of the person—if the person is aged under 18, the best interests of the child are a primary consideration—the connection of the person to the other country of which they are a citizen, Australia's international relations and any other matters of public interest. The minister must revoke a determination if a conviction is overturned or if the decision to overturn is upheld on appeal, and no further appeal can be made to a court in relation to the decision.

As you can see, this has been done with great consideration, and there are protections in there as well if a person is convicted but they are not sure what they were convicted for. I commend this bill to the House. It is a shame that this bill is important to our national security at the moment and, indeed, to the national security of any countries around the world who have done similar things. But these are the time in which we live, and one of the primary roles of a government is to protect its citizens. This bill is certainly going some way towards that.