ICYMI: Australia – Revoke automatic citizenship loss laws, intelligence committee urges

Under citizenship laws, any dual citizen aged over 14 automatically renounces their Australian citizenship if they act “inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia” by engaging in terrorist acts.

As of February, 12 people have lost their citizenship in this way.

But government departments and legal experts alike have criticised the automatic nature of the laws.

Dr Sangeetha Pillai and Professor George Williams have said automatic revocation was not only impractical, but potentially unconstitutional.

The Department of Home Affairs said the automatic loss of citizenship limited Australia’s ability to prosecute those individuals for their crimes.

The government had moved to change the laws, after the Independent Monitor of National Security legislation James Renwick called for the automatic provisions to be replaced with ministerial discretion.

Now the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security – led by Liberal backbencher Andrew Hastie – has agreed a ministerial decision-making model would be better.

The committee found as the law current works, the minister’s role is effectively limited to restoring a person’s citizenship after it has been lost or exempting a person from the automatic provisions.

A ministerial decision-making model would allow the minister to take into account a broader range of considerations in determining whether to cease an individual’s citizenship, the committee said.

“This determination was founded on advice from national security agencies, which advised the committee that further flexibility was required to utilise citizenship cessation to maximum effect,” the report said.

However such a model is not foolproof.

Australia became embroiled in a diplomatic stoush with Fiji in January after Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton stripped Islamic State recruiter Neil Prakash of his Australian citizenship on the understanding he also held citizenship in Fiji. Fiji denied he was a citizen and Prakash has effectively been left stateless.

The recommendation came as separate laws passed parliament that would make it tougher for terrorists to get bail.

The bill also closed a loophole that could have prevented some high-risk terrorists from being kept in custody after their sentences expired on continuing detention orders.

It also came as counter terrorism police arrested an alleged terrorist in Sydney on Wednesday.

Source: Revoke automatic citizenship loss laws, intelligence committee urges

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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