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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 984

Immigration and Citizenship

(Question No. 1519)

Senator Abetz asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, upon notice, on 19 January 2012:

With reference to remarks made by the sentencing judge on the conviction of the individuals charged with plotting an attack on the Holsworthy army base, in particular, that ' they also had an expressed hatred of Australian people and non-Muslims who they repeatedly referred to as " infidels "' :

(1)    Were the individuals convicted of this offence Australian citizens; if so, were they Australian citizens by virtue of: (a) birth; or (b) a citizenship ceremony.

(2)    If the convicted individuals were Australian citizens by virtue of a citizenship ceremony, what research into their antecedents was undertaken to determine their suitability for Australian citizenship.

(3)    Given the outcome of this prosecution and the apparent views of those convicted, is the department considering any changes to its methodologies for determining the suitability of individuals for Australian citizenship.

Senator Ludwig: The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) Two of the individuals convicted are Australian citizens—one by birth; one by conferral. The third individual is the holder of a provisional partner visa. The person who acquired Australian citizenship by conferral arrived in Australia as a child and resided continually in Australia up until the time he acquired citizenship.

( 2 ) Australian citizenship legislation requires that a person be of good character to be approved for Australian citizenship by conferral . The arrangements for checking this criterion are based on:

inclusion of character-related questions in the application form;

checks against the Migrant Alert List (MAL);

checks against a national database of criminal records;

as appropriate, clients who have lived outside Australia since turning 18 may be required to provide overseas penal clearance certificates for those countries in which they have resided.

In relation to the individual who was an Australian citizen by conferral:

he declared no relevant criminal or character-related behaviour (and there is no evidence that this was incorrect);

he was not recorded on MAL;

he did not have a criminal record; and

no overseas penal clearance certificate was required as he was under the age of 18 at time of application.

( 3 ) This case does not suggest a need to alter methodologies for assessing suitability for Australian citizenship . The individual acquired Australian citizenship as a child many years before the criminal activity occurred in 2009.