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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9943

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (22:18): A couple of points, Senator McKim: first of all, you have constructed a very complex edifice of assumptions about the way in which some theoretical other country's citizenship laws may work. It is not apparent to me that we are doing anything other than engaging in a mind game here. But, nevertheless, you put to me that it is at least theoretically possible to imagine a set of circumstances in which a dual citizen, by engaging in a terrorist act, renounces their citizenship and they subsequently lose the citizenship of the other country before the notice issues from the minister.

I would make two points to you, Senator McKim. First of all, if that were the case, it would not be Australia that would be in breach of the statelessness convention. It would be the other country, because that person would continue to have citizenship of the other country—the country of their other citizenship—at the time the other country took the act. By operation of this provision they lose their Australian citizenship when they engage in the renunciatory conduct.

But secondly, in order to protect against unintended consequences of the kind that perhaps you are hypothesising, we have actually included in the act a ministerial power of excusal from the consequences of the operation of the section 33AA provisions. They are included by section 17, and one of the matters to which the minister may have regard if he chooses to exercise a power of excusal from the effect of the act is paragraph (f) of subsection (17) of section 33AA, which refers to the person's connection to the other country of which the person is a national or citizen and the availability of the rights of citizenship of that country to the person. That provision actually contemplates the very possibility that you have adverted to and enables the consequence against which you have warned to be avoided.