New legislation on dual nationals was introduced to the Parliament last June 24. A joint statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office, Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) and Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) indicated that the Australian Government would strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship if they were found to have engaged in terrorist-related activities. The Government emphasised that its highest priority was to keep the Australian community safe.
The legislation would reportedly bring changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. New citizenship laws, under Section 35, would see dual nationals automatically losing their Australian citizenship if they serve a declared terrorist organisation overseas. The citizenship of those convicted of offences including espionage, foreign incursions, terrorism and treason would also be revoked.
Previously convicted dual citizens also run the risk of losing their Australian citizenship. It is still unsure how dual citizens who are in jail for the above-mentioned offences would be dealt with, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott raised the possibility of deportation. “I think a lot of people would regard them as people who should be deported, but let’s see what the committee says,” stated the prime minister.
The children of those who have gone overseas to fight for a terrorist organisation may likewise have their Australian citizenship revoked, unless the child has another parent, who holds an Australian citizenship, who can take accountability for the minor.
The new legislation will address the growing terrorist threat in Australia. Since September 2014, there have been a couple of terrorist attacks, which were reportedly inspired by the Daesh death cult. Australian authorities have foiled six planned terror attacks. Twenty-three Australians have already been arrested in a span of nine months.
The Bill will be forwarded to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS). The views of the PJCIS, along with feedback from the public consultation process, will provide the Government a sound basis for making further decisions on the legislation. The PJCIS is expected to report back to the Parliament in early August.