Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration speaks about the proposed law to revoke the citizenship of Australians suspected of terrorism on 7:30.

Published on Sep 8, 2015

Minister - Parliament passes Citizenship law

Friday, 04 December 2015

oint media release - The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Senator The Hon George Brandis QC, Attorney-General.

The Parliament last night passed the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 which updates and modernises a long standing provision of Australian law to reflect the new age of terrorism.

The legislation will strip Australian citizenship from dual citizens who are involved in terrorist conduct overseas or convicted of a terrorism offence in Australia.

It will also ensure terrorists who are dual nationals are prevented from returning to Australia and dual nationals who engage in terrorism within Australia can be removed where possible.

The changes to the existing legislation were necessary to reflect the current threat that Australia and the rest of the world faces.

Australia's current threat level is now at 'probable' – meaning that there is credible intelligence assessed by our security agencies that indicates individuals or groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia.

Dual nationals who engage in terrorism are betraying their allegiance to this country and do not deserve to be Australian citizens.

The Governments highest priority has been and will always be keeping Australians and the community safe and secure.

See: Index of Media Releases


Last update: Friday, 04 December 2015

Anti-terror citizenship bill debate delay

  • NOVEMBER 11, 2015

DEBATE on draft laws to strip Australian citizenship from dual-national terrorism suspects will be delayed yet again.

FEDERAL parliament was finally due to consider the anti-terrorism bill on Wednesday but Labor sought more time for another briefing by the government.

It's understood the legislation will not come up for debate until Thursday.

In a letter to Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles requests more time to cover all the recommendations of a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry.

Mr Marles says he's only been briefed on 12 of the 27 recommendations which call for greater oversight and protection of rights.

"I would request that the bill not be brought on for debate until these briefings have been provided," he wrote.

Earlier, Labor leader Bill Shorten said while the opposition had yet to fully consider all of the amendments it would not unduly delay passage of the legislation through parliament.

The government is confident the amended laws will withstand a High Court challenge.

"It's gone through a proper process now, and we are confident that it would survive a High Court challenge, but only time will tell," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.

House of Representatives [Part 1]

Wednesday, June 24 2015, 08:54

Mr DUTTON (Dickson—Minister for Immigration and Border Protection) (09:02): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 implements the commitment made by the Prime Minister, myself and the Australian government to address the challenges posed by dual citizens who betray Australia by participating in serious terrorism related activities. This bill emphasises the central importance of allegiance to Australia in the concept of citizenship.

Australian citizenship is something to be treasured. It is a common bond which unites us all, whether we were born here or chose to make Australia our home. Australian citizenship involves a commitment to this country, its people and its democratic rights and privileges. Australian citizenship should not be taken lightly.

We face a heightened and complex security environment. Regrettably, some of the most pressing threats to the security of the nation and the safety of the Australian community come from citizens engaged in terrorism. It is now appropriate to modernise provisions concerning loss of citizenship to respond to current terrorist threats. The world has changed, so our laws should change accordingly.

To ensure clarity of these necessary changes, a purpose clause has been inserted into the bill. It states that, by these amendments, the parliament recognises that Australian citizenship is a common bond, involving reciprocal rights and obligations, and that citizens may, through certain conduct incompatible with the safety and shared values of the Australian community, demonstrate that they have severed that bond and renounced their allegiance to Australia. The intention of the changes is the protection of the community and the upholding of its values, rather than punishing people for terrorist or hostile acts. The purpose clause uses concepts from the existing preamble in the Citizenship Act.

Allegiance is a duty owed by all citizens to their sovereign or state. A citizen's duty of allegiance to Australia is not created by the Citizenship Act, but it is recognised by it.

The concept of allegiance is central to the constitutional term 'alien' and to this bill's reliance upon the aliens power in the Constitution. The High Court has found that an alien is a person who does not owe allegiance to Australia. By acting in a manner contrary to their allegiance, the person has chosen to step outside of the formal Australian community.

The bill proposes three mechanisms for automatic loss of citizenship:

First, a new provision where a person renounces their citizenship if they act inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia by engaging in certain terrorist conduct.

Second, an extension to the current loss of citizenship provision for a person fighting in the armed forces of the country at war with Australia. The extension provides that a person ceases to be a citizen if they fight for, or are in the service of, a specified terrorist organisation overseas.

Third, a new loss of citizenship provision if the person has been convicted of a specified terrorism offence by an Australian court.

In accordance with Australia's international law obligations, no-one will lose citizenship under any of these provisions unless they are a national of another country.

I now turn to examine the bill in more detail.

New section 33AA is an extension of the current provision which allows a person to renounce their citizenship. The new section provides that a person who is a national or citizen of a country other than Australia renounces their Australian citizenship if they act inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia by engaging in specified conduct.

The relevant conduct is:

engaging in international terrorist activities using explosive or lethal devices;

engaging in a terrorist act;

providing or receiving training connected with preparation for, engagement in, or assistance in a terrorist act;

directing the activities of a terrorist organisation;

recruiting for a terrorist organisation;

financing terrorism;

financing a terrorist; and

engaging in foreign incursions and recruitment.

Automatic loss of citizenship will be triggered whether the conduct takes place inside or outside Australia.

The loss of citizenship will be immediate upon the person engaging in the relevant conduct. The minister must give notice that a person has ceased to be an Australian citizen once the minister becomes aware of the person's conduct giving rise to that outcome, but this notice does not affect when the loss of citizenship takes place. The bill makes clear that this notice may be given at such time and to such persons as the minister considers appropriate.

New section 35 provides for automatic cessation of citizenship if a person is a citizen of another country, is overseas and fights on behalf of, or serves, a declared terrorist organisation. A declared terrorist organisation will be a subset of those which are prescribed for the purposes of the Criminal Code. The minister will declare those organisations that are opposed to Australia or Australia's values, democratic beliefs, rights and liberties.

New section 35A provides that a person automatically ceases to be a citizen if they are convicted of a specified offence. This provision relies on a court having determined criminal guilt. The relevant offences include treason, espionage, terrorism and foreign incursions.

The bill provides the minister with a personal power to rescind a notice advising a person that they ceased to be an Australian citizen and exempt a person from loss of citizenship under these provisions if the minister considers it appropriate to do so in the public interest. If the minister rescinds a notice and exempts the person then they do not lose their citizenship. The minister does not have a duty to consider whether to rescind a notice and exempt the person from the loss of citizenship.

The bill makes it clear that the new loss provisions apply to all Australian citizens, regardless of how they acquired that citizenship. There is no concept of 'constitutional citizenship' in Australia and legislation has long provided that Australian citizens by birth can lose their citizenship in certain circumstances, such as fighting a war against Australia or, prior to 2002, becoming a citizen of another country.

The bill also limits section 39 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 in relation to these provisions, such as giving notice of a loss of citizenship or rescinding a notice and exempting a person from loss. This means that the minister may rely on any information provided by ASIO, whether it is preliminary information or whether it amounts to a security assessment or qualified security assessment.

It is intended to rely on the common law doctrine of public interest immunity and the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (known as the NSI Act) to protect such national security information in any subsequent litigation. The NSI Act protects information the disclosure of which is likely to prejudice Australia's defence, security, international relations, law enforcement interests or national interests. The compromise of this information could possibly affect the security of the nation.

The bill provides that a person who loses their citizenship for terrorist related activities which demonstrate a breach of allegiance is not able to reacquire Australian citizenship in the future. This is entirely appropriate because such a person has shown that they are not capable of upholding their commitment to our country and are not worthy of the honour of Australian citizenship.

I now turn to the issue of review rights. These provisions operate automatically, without a decision from the minister. A person who loses their citizenship under these provisions would be able to seek a declaration from a court that they have not in fact lost their citizenship. Members would be aware that there is no need to mention this explicitly in the bill because the Federal Court and High Court both have original jurisdiction over such matters.

The loss of citizenship provisions in the bill will not be retrospective. However, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security will inquire into this and other aspects of the bill. The renunciation provision in section 33AA and the fighting or serving a terrorist organisation provision in section 35 will only apply to conduct after the bill commences. The loss of citizenship following a conviction in section 35A will apply to convictions after commencement, although the conduct which forms the basis of the conviction could have occurred before commencement.


In conclusion, this bill deals with the threat caused by those who have engaged in terrorist related conduct that is contrary to their allegiance to Australia. It formally removes a person from the Australian community when they themselves have breached their allegiance to Australia.

I commend this bill to the House.

Debate adjourned.

Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015

Labor MP Melissa Parke raises constitutional concerns over new laws set to strip citizenship from terror suspects

By political reporter Stephanie Anderson

Updated 23 Nov 2015, 7:00pm

PHOTO: Labor backbencher Melissa Parke says the new laws which will strip terror suspects of citizenship fly in the face of natural justice. (AAP: Alan Porritt)

RELATED STORY: Laws to strip citizenship may face High Court challenge: Abbott

RELATED STORY: Who could lose their citizenship under new laws?

MAP: Australia

A federal Labor politician has broken ranks with her colleagues in opposing the Government's draft laws which would see dual nationals stripped of their Australian citizenship if they are convicted of a terrorist offence.

Melissa Parke voiced concerns over the constitutionality of the proposed changes when the bill returned to the House of Representatives on Monday.

Labor supported the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill after almost 30 amendments, but Ms Parke said a "deep level of concern" remained.

"In my view the bill remains contrary to the rule of law and the principles of natural justice and as such should not be passed by parliament," Ms Parke said.

Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles raised concerns over constitutionality earlier this month when he said: "the question of constitutionality lies with the Government and ultimately it will be for the government to bear responsibility for that".

Greens MP Adam Bandt also spoke in opposition of the "Tony Abbott-era" bill, saying it would do nothing to make Australia safer.

Mr Bandt said the proposed laws would effectively divide the country into "two classes of citizens".

"It will trash one of the most fundamental principles of civil law and the English constitutional system that we have taken for granted for many years," he said.

"That is if you are born in a country you are a citizen of the country and it is not the parliament's prerogative to take it away."

Independent Cathy McGowan also voiced opposition to the bill.

'Citizens should uphold Australian values'

Numerous Labor and Liberal MPs spoke in favour of the bill on Monday, with Karen Andrews referencing Australia's "relaxed patriotism".

The bill — which is likely to pass the lower house — would see dual nationals stripped of their Australian citizenship if they commit acts of terrorism.

Liberal MP Craig Kelly told the lower house citizens should have "respect for our traditions, our heritage and our democracy".

He said the Government should outline "the values we say we want citizens to have and hold up", including the marking of Anzac Day and "a commitment to speak the English language".

"We should have due respect for our national anthem," Mr Kelly said.

"We should say that it is not acceptable for any group for any circumstances to walk out on any event when the national anthem is being played."

Mr Kelly also spoke in favour of free speech, saying "one of the rights you don't have in this country is to demand obliteration of the things that cause offense".

Scott Morrison suggests suspending residency rights of Australians linked to terrorism

June 1, 2015

Stripping citizenship: could it work?

Liberal backbencher Dan Tehan struggles to explain how a proposal to strip Australian citizenship would work in practice.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has suggested Australians who are sole nationals and involved in terrorism overseas could have their residency rights suspended, rather than being stripped of citizenship.

As Prime Minister Tony Abbott vowed on Monday the government would press ahead with its plan to strip dual nationals of citizenship, Labor seized on divisions revealed by Fairfax Media last week that saw a split in the cabinet and Mr Abbott overruled on his preference for the immigration minister to have the ultimate authority on removing the citizenship of Australians who are not dual citizens.

Although not listed formally listed for discussion, the citizenship proposals - and the damaging leaks - were expected to be discussed in cabinet on Monday night. 

Mr Morrison's compromise proposal would mean an Australian citizen who does not hold the citizenship of a second nation could be prevented from returning to Australia for a period of time.

The suspension of citizenship would be less drastic than the proposal to strip citizenship from a sole national who, in theory, may be able to access the citizenship of another nation because of their ancestry.

Mr Morrison, who is a former immigration minister, said on Monday that "one of the rights of citizens is to enter and remain in Australia and that is a right that if the legislation were changed could be suspended".

He said a discussion paper, released at the same time the as the government announced plans to strip citizenship from terrorists who are dual nationals, canvassed a range of measures on how to handle deal with the potential threat posed by sole Australian nationals involved in or linked to terrorism overseas.

"Those measures include the suspension of certain rights of citizenship, that doesn't mean you are abolishing someone's citizenship, or rendering someone stateless," he said.

"What it means is that in the same way citizens can have their rights of citizenship temporarily suspended, particular rights such as the right to vote if you are in prison or something like that, then that provides other options to consider."

In question time, Labor seized on the fact that six members of the Abbott cabinet - Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, Foreign Affairs Minister and deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop, Attorney-General George Brandis, Agriculture Minister and deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull - had spoken out in a private cabinet meeting against the proposal to give Immigration Minister Peter Dutton the power to strip an Australian of their sole citizenship. 

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pressed the Prime Minister on whether the federal police had been asked to investigate the leak, while his deputy Tanya Plibersek asked if cabinet was a "shambles".

But Mr Abbott pressed the opposition to reveal whether it would back his proposed laws on dual citizenship and said legislation would be brought to the Parliament in about a fortnight.

" Legislation will come before this parliament to strip citizenship from terrorists who are dual nationals. I think the people of Australia deserve to know where the Labor Party stands on this issue. The position of government is clear. We will strip citizenship from terrorists who are dual nationals," he said.

A further, extraordinary leaked account of the cabinet meeting revealed intimate detail about Mr Dutton's plan, backed by Mr Abbott and Mr Morrison.

The core objection of the six ministers was that an Australian citizen could effectively be rendered stateless, in violation of international law.

However, proponents such as Liberal MP Dan Tehan - who is one of more than 40 backbench MPs to have signed a letter urging the prime minister to taker tougher action against terrorism - argue judicial safeguards would be put in place and that the law would broadly imitate a similar law recently adopted in Britain.

Referring to the cabinet leak, Mr Abbott said while those in Parliament focused on process the public didn't care about "who said what to whom in any particular meeting".