Speeches

AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP AMENDMENT BILL

September 02, 2020

I move:

That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House:

(1) welcomes the move by the Government to fix the significant problems with two of the existing terrorism-related citizenship loss provisions in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, sections 33AA and 35;
(2) recognises that sections 33AA and 35 of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 operate in an uncontrolled and uncertain manner, which may lead to unintended or unforeseen adverse security outcomes;
(3) further recognises that the bill would replace sections 33AA and 35 with a ministerial decision-making model of citizenship-cessation, which will allow the potential for adverse security outcomes to be better managed; and
(4) calls on the Government to:
(a) ensure that the bill is on the strongest possible constitutional footing;
(b) also ensure that the powers in the bill are used judiciously and in the best interests of Australia and Australians; and
(c) implement the recommendations of Labor members of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security".

Labor acknowledges the critical importance of protecting Australia's national security and the Australian community from terrorism. We will always support appropriate measures that achieve these goals. The citizenship-loss provisions introduced in 2015 were always intended to be part of a suite of measures to protect Australia and Australians from terrorism.

Labor notes the recommendations of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security that citizenship loss because of terrorist conduct may be necessary and proportionate in some cases. That is why Labor supported the 2015 legislation. But Labor has had concerns about the complexity and potential impact of this legislation. That is why PJCIS members issued a minority report in 2015 criticising the government's legislation and processes and recommending that provisions introduced by the 2015 act be referred immediately to the INSLM for review.

These concerns were borne out. In ASIO's submission to the PJCIS review of Australia's citizenship-cessation laws in September of last year, ASIO explained that citizenship cessation should never be viewed as the only tool in the toolbox. ASIO explained that there may be occasions where the better security option will be that citizenship be retained. That is why removing the automatic citizenship-loss provisions from our current legislation is so important. As the INSLM recommended in his 2019 inquiry, these provisions operate in an uncertain and uncontrolled manner and need to be repealed as a matter of urgency. As it stands, and as the Department of Home Affairs admitted in PJCIS hearings last year, under the current legislation there may be cases where an individual's Australian citizenship has ceased under the law but the government is not aware that this has occurred. This needs to change as a matter of urgency.

Labor notes that the government has acted on the INSLM's recommendations that the current operational law model, where a dual national's Australian citizenship is automatically renounced through their actions, will be replaced by a ministerial decision model. This bill, while still far from perfect in the opposition's view, will fix this important issue and introduce a range of other needed provisions. We take our commitment to national security seriously, as we all should, and I commend the second reading amendment and the bill to the House.

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