Australia: We Need To Get Rid Of Harmony Day

The history of Australia’s Harmony Day to replace the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, as part of the Howard government’s more positive historical narratives and opposition to what was called the “black armband” history:

On 21st March 1960, protestors in Sharpeville, South Africa were demonstrating against the country’s discriminatory apartheid laws when police opened fire, killing 69 innocent people and wounding 180 more. Information and photos of what we now refer to as “The Sharpeville Massacre” circulated around the world, demonstrating the brutality of racial discrimination and police militarism that is still echoed in every nation across the globe. In 1966, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed that March 21st be observed as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This day commemorates the lives of those who died in the fight for equality during apartheid, but it also calls on the international community to continue doubling down on its efforts to eliminate racial discrimination.

If you’re from Australia, you may not have heard of this day before. It’s not because Australia has solved racial discrimination – far from it. It’s because In Australia, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is patronizingly called “Harmony Day”. During this time of celebration, people across the country are encouraged to wear orange clothing to signify “social communication and encouragement of mutual respect” while schools often have children make art with the celebration’s slogan, “Everybody Belongs”. As you can imagine, this is disingenuous for a plethora of reasons.

When Harmony Day celebrations began in 1999, they purposefully coincided with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination so as to “re-centralize a singular and unifying notion of Australian-ness within multicultural policy”, according to the Howard government. But Prime Minister John Howard was himself an active opponent of multiculturalism. In 1988, he helped develop the “One Australia” policy that called for an end to multiculturalism, and this stance never changed. Although Howard eventually commissioned an anti-racism study to “explore the subtleties and nature of racism in Australia”, he actively rejected its findings. The study revealed that 85% of the study’s respondents recognized that racism was widespread and multi-faceted in Australia. These results did not align with Howard’s belief that Australians were not racist, so he rejected them. Instead of creating Harmony Day to focus on eliminating racism, his administration promoted a “living in harmony” approach and suppressed the study’s findings until 2011.

Referring to March 21st as “Harmony Day” acts as a smokescreen that hides the true extent of racism within this country, and conceals the painful yet important history of the date. According to The Secretary for the New South Wales Fabians, “Rather than focusing on tackling racism and the structural barriers that continue to exist, it is instead a self-congratulatory day about how “harmonious” we apparently are.” It almost serves to gaslight the Australian population. Commercial and technology lawyer Dan Ryan states that, “The problem with the harmonious society is not just the disconnect between the rhetoric and the reality. The truth is, while superficially sweet-sounding, the idea is illusory and utopian.”

The day infers that, in Australia, “Everybody Belongs.” But that simply isn’t true. When we examine how Indigenous Australians and people of colour are treated in this country, we see that peace is a far cry from reality. Research shows that 72% of Indigenous Australians and 70% of the general population believe Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians are prejudiced against each other. 27 years since the end of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal deaths in Custody, more than 400 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have died in custody. The indigenous population is still massively over-represented in the Australian prison system. In 2017, 27% of inmates were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, much more than their 3% share of the population. Proclaiming that “Everybody Belongs” only diverts attention from anti-racism action to an illusory concept of harmony.

Harmony Day needs to be rebranded as International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. That way, it can focus on what is really important: decisive action against racism. Instead of dressing children in orange while they draw stick figures standing hand-in-hand, we can teach them cultural competency and the history of racial discrimination. Rather than hold a “Harmony Day Morning Tea”, we can explore the entrenched racism in contemporary society. As opposed to turning away from the past, we can look right at it, finally acknowledge the mistakes made, and the path we must take.

Source: We Need To Get Rid Of Harmony Day

Australia’s minority communities ‘urgently need’ COVID-19 resources

Likely a similar need in Canada. Checking the site, there does not yet appear to be much in other languages as this Social Distancing example illustrates. Assume that the government’s roll-out of its public information campaign will include some targeted to ethnic media:

There are calls for the Federal Government not to forget Australia’s minority communities as it ramps up in-language communication about COVID-19.

Labor MP Julian Hill told SBS News on Thursday this should be an “urgent” matter for the government.

Mr Hill represents the multicultural electorate of Bruce located in southeast Melbourne where more than 200 languages are spoken.

He said a “complete lack of social distancing” at one market in his electorate showed health warnings were failing to reach many people.

“The government has to do more urgently to get material out in minority languages, that’s up to date and simple and clear,” he told SBS News.

“I’m particularly worried about some of the small newly-arrived communities that have not yet had the opportunity to develop proficient English language skills.”

The Federal Government has so far translated health guidelines detailing new rules and expectations in response to the virus in seven languages.

These translated materials can be found in Arabic, Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, Farsi, Italian, Korean and Greek.

The advice covers everything from washing your hands to explaining concepts like social distancing and self isolation to contain the contagion’s spread.

Jordan Pe is part of the Eastern Karen Community Association, which represents the ethnic minority native to south eastern Myanmar.

The ethnic group has long faced religious and ethnic persecution with their numbers in Australia totalling just over 5,000 at the most recent census.

Mr Pe told SBS News communicating rapidly changing messages in response to the pandemic without in-language help has been a challenge.

“It is hard – we can’t see anybody at the moment,” he said.

“People used to catch up in the church services – [now] it is only the phone communication we have to pass on information to them.”

Mr Pe said language barriers are more evident for older members in the community and others coming from a refugee background.

“If it’s not your first language – you read it and think how can I understand all that,” he said.

“[But] if someone can translate it into Karen on a national level – then we can explain it better to make sense to them.”

The Victorian Government has made fact sheets available in 48 languages, as state governments also attempt to pass on vital health information.

NSW, Western Australia, and Queensland have produced their own translated material too – while other jurisdictions refer to translating services and resources available from the Federal Government.

SBS has also launched a Multicultural Coronavirus Portal, where communities can access the latest news about the pandemic across 63 languages.

CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia Mohammad Al-Khafaji told SBS News there is a pressing need to ensure newly arrived communities are kept informed.

“The challenge for the government is obviously how many languages do you translate these complex messages into –  there is always a limitation,” he said

“But hopefully this crisis will make policymakers take seriously the importance of including the new and emerging communities’ languages.”

Mr Al-Khafaji said these ethnic groups can’t always rely on the developed communication channels of more established communities.

“If government messages do not meet the needs of those communities that heavily rely on translated material and in-language programming, then those communities will rely on other sources,” he said.

Mr Al-Khafaji said “unfortunately” those sources are often not from Australia and may not meet the standards of our health advice.

The Department of Home Affairs has said it plans to distribute further information to “multicultural audiences through targeted print, radio and social media placements”.

The government has also conducted several meetings with community leaders regarding COVID-19 responses.

But Labor’s Julian Hill said more can and needs to be done.

“I’m really worried about what can happen if some of those communities are not getting the messages around social distancing and not getting the message about staying at home.”

Source: Australia’s minority communities ‘urgently need’ COVID-19 resources

All non-citizen, non-resident travellers will be banned from entering Australia and New Zealand


All non-citizen, non-resident travellers will be banned from entering Australia, as the government attempts to get a handle on the coronavirus outbreak.

“We believe it is essential to take a further step to ensure we are now no longer allowing anyone, unless they are a citizen or resident or direct family member,” Scott Morrison said in an address on Thursday afternoon.

The government’s reasoning is that a significant majority of cases are not contracting the virus through community transmission, but by contact with someone who has recently travelled from overseas.

“The reason for this decision is about 80 per cent of the cases we have in Australia are either the result of someone who has contracted the virus overseas or someone who has had a direct contact with someone who has returned from overseas,” he said.

Earlier this week, the government announced all Australians currently overseas should return home immediately, using commercial flights.

Source: All non-citizen, non-resident travellers will be banned from entering Australia from Friday night

New Zealand:

The prime minister has confirmed that the New Zealand border will be closed to anyone who is not a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident from 11.59pm tonight.

Children and partners of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents will be allowed to enter.

People from the Pacific will be included in the border closure, as will temporary workers or temporary visa holders such as students.

If travellers are boarding a flight, transiting on their way to New Zealand, or on an aircraft before midnight, they will be able to land and enter the country when they arrive.

“I recognise how extraordinary this is,” said Ardern, but the measure had to be taken to protect New Zealand from Covid-19

“In no time in New Zealand’s history has a power like this been used.”

The ban applies to people not product, and those staffing freight ships and planes are not included.

Those who have travelled here from other countries recently are still required to self-isolate, and those who have been here longer are being encouraged to look at how they can get home.

“I’m not willing to take risks here,” Ardern said.

She said the decision was made between 4pm and 5pm this evening. Only Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was told of these changes beforehand.

Those who have already boarded or are enroute will be able to enter New Zealand.

“I have simply removed the risk. I’m not willing to tolerate risk at our border, that is where predominantly of our cases are coming from,” said Ardern.

She added that while “we will continue to have cases in New Zealand as we continue to test those with symptoms who have come home, we must slow down the transmission in New Zealand”.

Earlier, there were travel bans on anyone arriving from China and Iran, and all others – except those from the Pacific – had to self-isolate for 14 days.

Earlier this afternoon, the government announced a ban on indoor gatherings of more than 100 people.

Ardern has already given one update on the government response to the Covid-19 coronavirus today. Speaking in Rotorua, she told New Zealanders they must prepare for the full effects of the Covid-19 coronavirus, but must not panic, especially over rumours and misinformation.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand increased by eight to 28 today.

Source: NZ to close its borders to anyone not a citizen or permanent resident, PM confirms

Australia: Liberal politician accuses first female Muslim MP of thinking ‘her diversity is better than others’


A debate in the House of Representatives on the importance of multiculturalism in Australia turned sour on Thursday after Assistant Defence Minister Alex Hawke attacked Labor MP Anne Aly for thinking her diversity is “something better than other people’s diversity”.

Egyptian-born Dr Aly was the first Muslim woman to be elected to Federal Parliament after she won the West Australian seat of Cowan in 2016.

The controversial comments came after Dr Aly disputed claims by Mr Hawke that “most” of the politicians in the room were either born overseas or had a parent that was, as part of a speech on the success of multiculturalism in Australia.

“When the member opposite likes to cite her diversity as something better than other people’s diversity she ignores reality,” he said, resulting in shouts of “shame” from Labor MPs.

“The member for Cowan should reflect that people have come from all parts of the world to Australia, over many years. Just because you’re a migrant from one country doesn’t make you better than another.”

Mr Hawke, the Member for Mitchell, was responding to calls by Labor MP Andrew Giles for urgent action from politicians on the rise of racism and anti-Semitism in Australia.

Citing the attack of a heavily pregnant Muslim woman in Parramatta in November last year, he said Australia was “witnessing a creeping normalisation of hate”.

“Let me be clear: the vast majority of Australians abhor racism, but we need national leadership, setting the standard and leading by example. This has been sadly missing in this place,” Mr Giles said.

Mr Hawke defended the comments on Friday morning, accusing Labor of “feigning outrage and falsely claiming racism” in order to shut down debate.

“Labor under Anthony Albanese appears fixated on identity politics and appears constantly triggered by anything and everything,” he said in a statement to SBS News.

“Every MP has the right to engage in robust debate – certainly Labor members did in this discussion.”

Mr Hawke clarified that he was trying to make the point that Labor was misrepresenting the reality of multiculturalism in Australia, which he said is a “free, fair and tolerant place and the greatest multicultural success story in the world”.

“This constant erosion of debate threatens our freedom,” he said.

During the 2019 federal election, Ms Aly was the target of “racist” flyers which used her full Egyptian name, Azza Mahmoud Fawzi Hosseini Ali el Serougi, and accused her of proposing “blasphemy” laws to ban any criticism of Islam.

Dr Aly’s office has been contacted for comment.

Source: Liberal politician accuses first female Muslim MP of thinking ‘her diversity is better than others’

Australia Can’t Deport Indigenous Aboriginal People, Court Rules

Would appear to have been self-evident!

Australia’s highest court ruled Tuesday the government can’t deport Aboriginal people as part of its policy of ridding the country of foreign criminals.

The High Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that indigenous Australians cannot be deported even if they do not hold Australian citizenship.

The court had heard the case of two men who were born overseas but identified as being from indigenous tribes.

The government attempted to deport them after they served prison sentences for violent crimes. The government has been criticized for deporting some criminals who have lived in Australia since where were children but had never become citizens.

The court found that Brendan Thoms, 31, who was born in New Zealand to an indigenous Australian mother, was an Aboriginal Australian.

Thoms had lived in Australia since he was 6, is accepted as a member of the Gunggari tribe and is recognized as a native title holder of their traditional land.

But a majority of judges was not convinced that Daniel Love, 40, was indigenous and was accepted as a member of the Kamilaroi tribe.

He was born in Papua New Guinea to an indigenous Australian father and has lived in Australia since he was 5.

His lawyers say he will provide more evidence of his Aboriginality and another trial could be held to decide the issue.

Both Love and Thoms were placed in immigration detention and threatened with deportation on their release from prison after serving sentences for unrelated crimes.

Love has had his visa restored since his lawyers initiated court action and lives on the Gold Coast.

Thoms has been in immigration detention in Brisbane for the 16 months since he completed a six-month prison sentence.

Their lawyer Claire Gibbs demanded that Thoms be immediately released.

“He’s very anxious to be released and to be reunited with his family after all this time,” Gibbs said outside court.

“The High Court has found that Aboriginal Australians are protected from deportation. They can no longer be removed from the country that they know and that they have a very close connection with,” she added.

The Home Affairs Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Gibbs said both Love and Thoms would sue the government for wrongful detention.

“Both of my clients have suffered severe embarrassment about being Aboriginal men in immigration detention and they’ve been subject to a lot of ridicule,” Gibbs said. “So it’s been a very, very tough time for them both.”

The court found Aboriginal Australian have a special cultural, historic and spiritual connection to Australia which is inconsistent with them being considered “aliens” in the meaning of the Australian constitution.

Indigenous Australians make up 3% of the population and are the most disadvantaged minority group in a range of measures. Indigenous Australians die younger than other Australians and are overrepresented in prisons.

Australia: Do we need to ‘reboot’ our policy of multiculturalism?

Of note (as the same time the small grants program for community languages call for proposals launched):

Labor MP Dr Anne Aly, in a media report on 25 January, called for a ‘reboot of multiculturalism’.

The Labor MP recounted how when attending a medical appointment in her Perth electorate of Cowan she was asked by reception staff: “Where are you from? Because you’re not from Australia.”

This question is a perhaps more common in Perth than Melbourne or Sydney. It is doubtful that medical reception staff in Coburg, Victoria, or Liverpool, NSW, would ask such a question. More likely they would be of non Anglo background themselves. Also, we can only assume that “the woman behind the desk”, as that Dr Aly refers to her is Anglo – we don’t know.

Nevertheless, Dr Aly makes a salient point. How often have we, as Greek Australians, been told, “I won’t try to pronounce that name”, after we give our surnames to staff, or have been asked “What nationality are you?” When they mean what is your cultural background.

Often these types of questions are benign, if irritating. They reflect an implicit understanding that Australians – with the exception of Indigenous Australians – come from somewhere. Equally, they may reveal more about one’s class and education rather than hardwired racism.

In Dr Aly’s desire to reboot multiculturalism she refers to reports that outline the experiences of racism by Victorian high school students, and the reality of highly-skilled migrants being forced to do menial or less qualified jobs.

There is of course the other side. Poorly skilled migrants, like many post-war Greek and Italian migrants began their life in Australia in menial factory jobs and over the years developed businesses, bought property, created wealth, and their children have attended university and become professionals.

Dr Aly herself is a great model of the success of multiculturalism as the first Muslim woman elected to Federal Parliament from Western Australia. And, for those that know Western Australia, it is not exactly a poster child for diversity, not as much as NSW or Victoria.

In contrast to most modern nations Australia’s multiculturalism has done well. We do not have significant inter-ethnic conflicts, no violent racially-born street brawls and there are no sectarian conflicts. Egypt, where Dr Aly’s family migrated from, has suffered horrific racial and faith-based violence in recent years as members of the Muslim Brotherhood burn Orthodox Churches and kill scores of Egyptian Christians. In Burma we have seen the forcible displacement and mass killing of Myanmar nationals of Muslim faith, and Rohingya ethnicity. In China we see the imprisonment in re-education camps of Muslim Uyghur, who are Chinese citizens. Egypt, Myanmar, nor China, can claim to have democratic credentials, however citizenship is no guarantee of cultural safety in those states.

However, much of Europe, (especially Eastern Europe), has experienced spikes of violence against refugees, immigrants, Roma, and religious minorities. France has seen a disturbing rise of anti-Semitism. Anti-Muslim attitudes are rife in Poland, Hungary, and Russia. Attaining citizenship as a foreigner in Europe is difficult and cultural assimilation is a prerequisite, especially in Nordic nations. Greece, at the height of its financial crisis saw the rise of the violent Nazi affiliated Golden Dawn and anti-refugee sentiment remains high. Anti African racism has become common in football marches in Italy and other nations. Interestingly, Britain which is leaving the EU, has the most formed multicultural policies and even under the populist new PM Boris Johnston one of the most culturally diverse cabinets.

Yet, Dr Aly’s call to reboot multiculturalism has credit. We may have become complacent. While we accept the reality on the street of multiculturalism, we see the development of less purposeful policy architecture since the mid 90s. What once made Australia’s policy of multiculturalism unique under Gough Whitlam, then Malcolm Fraser and later Bob Hawke, were the rejection of assimilation, and equally the rejection of colour as a basis of determining diversity.

The anaemic responses to multicultural policy by Labor and Coalition since the mid-90s, that Dr Aly alludes to, has allowed race and new identity politics, born in the US, to colonise our very distinctive policy. Our multicultural policy was exceptional in determining language as a key aspect of diversity.

Once we talked of non-English-speaking-background not of ‘white’ people, or people of colour. In that context policies were developed that allowed migrants access to services and programs based on their English language skills. We see a diminishing focus on Languages Other Than English, (LOTE). We once had clear policy directions on a Federal and State government level to teach community-based languages be they, Arabic, Greek, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Italian and so on, as well as commercially based LOTE. The diminishing programs in language learning can not augur well for multiculturalism or Australia.

Finally, the reality that Labor’s catastrophic loss last year to the Coalition had much to do with Labor’s focus on new identity politics. Labor once led in communication efforts with culturally diverse constituents, not this time. Many Chinese Australians, Indians, Greeks, Italians and others voted for the Coalition.

Greeks, even if once lock step with Labor, saw danger in Mr Bill Shorten’s anti-aspiration messaging. The fear that negative gearing would be abolished did little to enhance Labor’s credentials among migrants who see it as a way of building for their future and their children.

Racism exists, there is no doubt, but Australians on the whole are far less racist and much more accommodating than people in other nations. Migrants feel more confident here than say in Sweden, Greece or Italy. Dr Aly is correct, we do need to reboot multiculturalism but to do so we need to make it a policy as it was once – broad, bipartisan, language focused and overall, unifying.

Source: Do we need to ‘reboot’ our policy of multiculturalism?

Australia: Community languages multicultural grants Stream Two now open

The Canadian federal multiculturalism used to fund community languages but that role has been assumed by the provinces:

Stream two of the Community Languages Multicultural Grants program is now open.

The grants are part of the Australian Government’s commitment to provide $10 million over two years to community language schools to help young Australians learn another language.

Through stream two, community language schools can apply for funding of up to $25,000 for projects that build the capacity of the community language sector across Australia, such as the development of teaching resources and professional development programs.

Community language schools are encouraged to partner with language associations or organisations, such as universities, institutes and consultants to deliver these projects.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said learning a language other than English helps prepare students for a workforce which is increasingly global and competitive.

“Community language schools play an important role in helping to build strong communities and strengthen our social cohesion,” Mr Tudge said.

“We want more children and students learning a second or third language, which will in turn have positive impacts well into the future.”
About 1000 community language schools across Australia may be eligible for the grants. These schools specialise in 69 different languages and teach more than 100,000 school‐aged children.

Applications for stream two close on 6 March 2020.

Applications for stream one opened in December 2019, and close 17 February 2020. Under stream one, eligible language schools that apply for funding will receive a base payment of $1,500, as well as a per capita amount of funding based on student enrolment numbers, capped at a maximum of $30,000 per school per year.

For more information about the Community Languages Multicultural Grants Program and how to apply, visit the Community Grants Hub website at

Australian-Chinese community facing discrimination over coronavirus fears

Similar to Canada:

With fears over coronavirus increasing rapidly, the Australian-Chinese community is begging for calm.

Seven Australians have been diagnosed with the disease, which originated in China. It has already claimed the lives of 170 people worldwide.

President of the Liberal Party Chinese Youth Council Scott Yung tells Ben Fordham it’s paramount people don’t take their fears out on the Chinese community.

“We do have to remember that at the end of the day this is the coronavirus, not the Chinese virus… everyone’s been affected all across the globe.

“To have some articles use rhetoric such as ‘panda-demic’, it’s not really congruent with the successful multicultural society that we have.”

Source: Australian-Chinese community facing discrimination over coronavirus fears

Australia rejects visa-free immigration deal with UK

Canadians advocating for a FTA with a post-Brexit UK should note. In any case, UK will most likely be fixated on addressing all the issues related to the EU to devote much serious time to other countries:

The Australian government has turned down the UK’s offer of a post-Brexit trade agreement that included visa-free work and travel between the two countries.

Trade minister Simon Birmingham said full free movement would not be accepted because it could cause an exodus of highly trained workers to the UK and an influx of unskilled British workers to Sydney and Melbourne. Last year, ministers in New Zealand voiced similar fears of a brain drain.

Last September, international trade secretary Liz Truss, on a visit to Australia, announced that a plan to allow British citizens to live and work in the country visa-free could be just months away.

She said: “We’ve been clear on the fact we want to adopt the Australian-based points system in terms of our new immigration system as we leave the European Union… our two countries have a special link and a historic relationship, and it’s certainly something that we will be looking at as part of our free-trade negotiations.”

But even then, Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison, said the visa-free arrangement with New Zealand was not something that would be extended to other countries.

Birmingham said yesterday: “Negotiations for an FTA [free trade agreement] between Australia and the UK will prioritise enhancing trade with a market that is already our eighth-largest trading partner.

“Work and visa settings may also form part of discussions but it is important to appreciate that there is a huge spectrum of grey between the black and white of no movement or unfettered movement.

“Once talks are launched with the UK we will work through all of these issues in the usual way,” he said.

Under existing arrangements, Australians can visit the UK for six months as a tourist without a visa.

A visa, however, is required to do paid or unpaid work for those born after 1983 and don’t have a parent who is a UK citizen (or was a UK citizen at the time of the traveller’s birth).

Chetal Patel, partner at City law firm Bates Wells, said the rejection of the UK proposal was a setback for the UK government: “Although bilateral trade discussions are ongoing, the news that the Australian government has rejected a visa-free arrangement serves as another stark reminder of the challenges the UK faces post-Brexit. It’s also a significant rebuke for the new administration considering the introduction of visa-free arrangements seemed to be almost a foregone conclusion just a few weeks ago.

“Surely work visas and other visas should be decided separately from the UK’s trade negotiations?

“This development ultimately begs several questions. What kind of approach will the government take in negotiations with other states given that the Home Office may now be completely restructured? Is the liberalisation of free movement as previously mooted by Boris Johnson and free marketeers going to be the guiding principle of immigration policy? Or does this episode suggest that preferential arrangements with certain other nation states will no longer be pursued?”

Patel said it would be interesting to see the impact of the Morrison government decision on the Australian-style immigration points based system to be implemented in the UK. “We’re expecting the Migration Advisory Committee’s report to be published at the end of this month, so we may know more about what’s in store very shortly,” she said.

About 120,000 people born in Australia are UK residents, with the largest concentration being in south-west London. About 2,000 Australians work in the NHS.

Source: Australia rejects visa-free immigration deal with UK

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