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'Fundamental' flaws remain in planned citizenship law -

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MARK COLVIN: A constitutional law expert says there would still be significant grounds to challenge the citizenship laws in the high court, despite the recommendations.

This, as the Law Council of Australia says there are still "fundamental flaws" in the proposal.

Imogen Brennan reports.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: Professor Kim Rubenstein is an expert on citizenship and the Constitution at the Australian National University College of Law

KIM RUBENSTEIN: Look I think that the report is a comprehensive report.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: While she's impressed with the committee's effort to form 27 recommendations to address the public's concerns, professor Rubenstein says some major concerns have been avoided.

KIM RUBENSTEIN: There were sufficient doubts and issues raised by this bill that even with these recommendations for change, have not been fully answered.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: For example, section 35 of the Bill says that if you are a dual national and you fight for a country that is at war with Australia, you immediately lose your citizenship. This is a 'self-executing' law, and professor Rubenstein says questions remain as to whether it's actually constitutional.

KIM RUBENSTEIN: The central provision, section 35 itself which is in the act now, and these which are building upon that concept in a much more extensive way, it is not clear that is in fact the constitutional position.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: Given that that key concern was not addressed in this list of recommendations, do you think this law could stand up to a challenge in the high court?

KIM RUBENSTEIN: There would be a very strong case to argue that the core nature of this bill, which provides for the effective renunciation by actions or an operation of law of loss of citizenship and that in of itself is not clear to be constitutional.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: Duncan McConnell is the president of the Law Council of Australia. They had serious concerns with the law, and made a detailed submission to the Committee. They're pleased with some of the recommendations.

DUNCAN MCCONNELL: A number of our submissions are addressed by the recommendations, a good number of them. Things like a recommendation in respect of children that it doesn't apply to children under the age of 14, so it brings that into alignment with the criminal code.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: Similar to professor Kim Rubenstein, Duncan McConnell says there are still fundamental flaws in the proposed citizenship law.

DUNCAN MCCONNELL: When you come to the provision dealing with conduct, what you're talking about is someone doing something and automatically losing citizenship as a result of that and no sort of determination by a court about whether in fact the person did commit the conduct.

IMOGEN BRENNAN: This is a bipartisan committee report that's been tabled today, it's likely to go through parliament. What do you see happening in the next few months and years with this?

DUNCAN MCCONNELL: I think it probably will at least be challenged on those provisions dealing with conduct giving rise to loss of citizenship without a conviction.

MARK COLVIN: Duncan McConnell from the Law Council of Australia, ending Imogen Brennan's report.