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ABC News 24 12 Noon News -

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(generated from captions) Hello, I'm Joe O'Brien, just breaking into that program. The chairman of the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security has just stepped up.... Allegiance to Australia Bill, 2015. The bill would allow Australian citizenship to be stripped from dual nationals who in re pudiation of their allegiance to Australia engage in terrorism-related conduct. With over 120 Australians currently fighting for Daesh and 170 people actively supporting extremist groups here in Australia through financing and recruitment, the terrorism threat is real. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is currently investigating several thousand leads. More than 400 of those are high priority cases. That is double the number of even a year ago. We need to give the necessary instruments to our police and this
security agencies to confront this threat. The Government has acted and will continue to act to protect Australians from those who would do us harm. This bill modernises our treason laws to deal with the new threat of home-grown terrorists. If you repudiate your allegiance to Australia and you are a dual national, you will lose your citizenship. The committee's recommendations include limiting the conduct-based provisions for loss of citizenship proposed Sections 33 AA and 35 to conduct occurring outside Australia or to conduct in Australia where the person involved has plead overseas before being charged and brought to trial. For the conduct-based provisions requiring the minister to take into account issues including public interest factors, whether
international obligations, whether a prosecution is under way and whether the individual would be able to access citizenship rights in their other country. For conviction-based pro-Vicses proposed Section 35 A requiring a minister to make citizenship should be lost taking into account allegiance and public interest factors. Removing from the conviction-based provisions the offence for destroying or damaging Commonwealth property and a number of other offences that carry a maximum penalty of less than 10 years' imprisonment or have never been used. Limiting the conviction-based provisions to persons given sentences of at least six years' imprisonment. Proposing that Section 33 AA and 35 do not aged
apply to conduct by a child aged under 14 years. A series of other measures to improve safeguards and provide greater accountability. The committee has also recommended that the bill's conviction-based provisions be applied retrospectively to convictions where sentences of 10 years or more have been handed down by a court. The committee has produced a report that acknowledges and responds to the issues raised by participants in the inquiry while maintaining the bill's effectiveness in protecting the Australian community from threats posed by dual nationals who intend to do us harm. I would like to thank the deputy chair Anthony Byrne and other members of the committee for their hard work in ensuring we have reached a bipartisan outcome. Are there any questions? REPORTER: What method will you take to ensure it stands up legally? We had reassurances from the Attorney-General. He sent the committee a letter providing a synopsis of the advice of the Solicitor-General. That is attached to the committee's report. So would this only apply when people are actually overseas? No, the conduct provisions will only apply when people are overseas. So can a person currently in Australia have their dual Australian citizenship revoked? They can under the conviction-based provisions of the legislation. So only if they're convicted? Only if they're convicted. If that means someone is convicted more than 10 years retrospectively you could strip their citizenship when they're in jail...? The committee has made a series of recommendations to the Government. It is now up to the Government to consider those recommendations and then obviously they will advise the Parliament of that and then the bill will progress through the Parliament. This is what we have recommended to the Government. That's the effect, though, if someone's been in jail on a 15-year term for terrorism-related offences you could strip them of their passport and they could be deported? The retrospective conviction-based
elements are to do with the conviction-based element of the bill. So yes, if you have been sentenced to ten years or more and you are a dual citizen, you will have your citizenship stripped here in Australia. How does it work if a person is in a third country based on your recommendations? Well, that is something that we've asked that the minister needs to take into consideration in whether he decides to strip the citizenship or not. Because couldn't that make us fall foul United Nations
of our responsibilities to the United Nations not to make people stateless? That is why the minister needs to take it into account the ability of the person to be able to adopt or to be able to get access to their other citizenship. Does making the laws retrospectively apply does that mean you're effectively being punished This
twice for the same crime? This is something the committee gave very serious consideration to. Making any law retrospective is not something that any Parliament does lightly, but it was our view if you have been convicted and sentenced for a terrorism-related crime of ten years or more through your actions you have repudiated and,
your allegiance to Australia and, therefore, this bill should apply to you. Julie Bishop said she in-principle doesn't support the idea of retrospective law changes, what do you say? All I would say is that the committee looked at this very closely. This is not something which is done lightly. This is something we gave a great deal of thought to, but after we considered it, we viewed that if you have been convicted of a terrorism crime of ten years or more, we viewed it that you have repudiated your allegiance to Australia and, therefore, if you're a dual citizen, you should have your citizenship stripped. David Hicks had his conviction struck down. In a case such as that in the future, will there be any provision in the future to hand back the passport? So if you were convicted and had your dual citizenship stripped and then that was quashed or overturned, then yes, our recommendation is that then the minister should look to provide the citizenship back to that individual. And you mentioned a recommendation on destroying Commonwealth property provision. Do you think you'll water that down now? So that is one of the elements of the bill which we've said needs to be removed. There are other provisions which would pick up an act for instance, if you sought to blow up the Federal Parliament, there would be other provisions which would Has
capture with regard to that. Has the committee checked other countries will take in rejected noncitizens? We were provided advice by the various departments on this, and we are confident with the recommendations that we have made that the bill can work effectively. How did you settle on the age of 14 years as an appropriate age? Did you take into account the circumstances of children known to be currently in Syria when making that decision? What we did was we looked at the law and what we wanted to make sure was that the bill worked effectively with the law. The criminal code allows obviously if you are a child at 14 years or above, there is provisions within the criminal code for you to face conviction. So considerations
that was one of the key considerations we took into account. So it was more just making sure that the bill worked effectively with the current laws that we have. Can you still lose your citizenship even if a court quashes it? Obviously on all of these matters it depends on the circumstances of what we're talking about, et cetera. But as I mentioned before to the question, if you were convicted of a terrorism act and then on appeal that conviction was to
quashed then our recommendation to the Government is that you shouldn't lose your citizenship. Thank you all very much . Were you aware there's a report out an air strike may cause civilian casualties in Iraq - has that been brought to the Government's attention? I'm not aware of that report. It would be better off that question directed to the Defence Minister, Gareth. Just broadly speaking the issue of air strikes and possible civilian casualties, is that an issue when it comes to joining air strikes in Syria? Is that an issue that you're taking into consideration? That is always a key consideration that any government considers when it makes decisions as to whether it should join military action in any country. So that aspect, the rules of engagement, is something which is always taken into consideration by any government when it's considering taking military action. Should there be more transparency of the impact of Australia's operations in Iraq and potentially Syria? I think there is transparency and what I would say is those we are fighting are the ones who do not
not like transparency, they do not like democratic principles. They're the ones acting in ways which frankly beggar belief and the current situation in Syria where you've got 9 million people internally displaced, I think it's the greatest humanitarian crisis that we have seen in the world and in my personal view it's something, it is a very strong reason as to why we need to act in Syria and why we should be calling on the international community to be doing more when it comes to Syria. What's the deciding
Government's timeline for deciding on these recommendations and having a bill ready to go? So, that is entirely up to the Government, but my understanding is that we will be looking to get, to look at these recommendations, consider them and then legislate in the coming weeks. Will you consider what Labor wants? They're making bipartisan noises on this.We've always taken into consideration the bipartisan nature of what we're dealing with. It's why I as chair and the deputy chair Anthony Byrne have worked so hard to make this a bipartisan outcome. I'll leave the questions there. Thanks very much. So that was live from Melbourne the chair of the parliamentary committee on intelligence and security recommendations
Dan Tehan announcing committee recommendations on circumstances in which citizenship can be revoked. This was being looked at in the context of dealing with people who've acted in support recently of the Islamic State group waging war in Iraq and Syria. So concerns had been raised about some aspects of the legislation as it had been presented. It appears some changes have been recommended including age limits and movements on convictions in relation to charges of damage to Commonwealth property, and there's also a recommendation there too on retrospectivity. We're expecting to hear from Labor's Mark Dreyfus and Richard Marles on that shortly, to Melbourne
so we'll cross back there live to Melbourne just as soon as