Anti-terror laws: Extremists face losing citizenship or immigration detention
Terrorists and their sympathisers could face years in immigration limbo after Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the indefinite detention of radicalised Australians who have a right to citizenship overseas.
Defending the legality of the Federal Government’s tough new anti-terror laws against concerns they could leave people stateless, Mr Morrison said people convicted of terrorism offences should lose their Australian citizenship.
If other countries refused to accept them, then the extremists would remain in immigration detention.
“If we have a reasonable view that someone has citizenship — it may be by descent or they may have been born somewhere else — then we will be able to strip them of their Australian citizenship,” Mr Morrison said.
“And we’ll be able to have them deported back to the country from which they do have a citizenship.
“If they’re in a position not to be deported, well they’ll remain in immigration detention.”
The power to strip terrorists of their Australian citizenship passed Parliament with bipartisan support in 2015, but it was limited to dual citizens who had been convicted of a terrorism offence with a sentence of at least six years imprisonment.
Under the changes announced on Thursday, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton could revoke their citizenship regardless of the severity of the conviction, as long as he was “reasonably satisfied” that the person would hold another citizenship.
The indefinite detention of terrorists could pose new security challenges for immigration detention centres in Australia such as Yongah Hill at Northam.
And lawyers have warned of overreach by the Government, with Law Council president Morry Bailes urging a “necessary and proportionate” response to the threat of terror that did not undermine the rule of law.
However, Attorney-General Christian Porter argued that the existing laws made it “far too difficult” for the Government to strip convicted terrorists of their Australian citizenship, and were therefore out of step with community expectations.
He also insisted that Australia would not leave people stateless, despite acknowledging that some countries would refuse to repatriate dual nationals.
“There are ways in which the law can be amended and refined to make a process simpler while maintaining all our international obligations,” Mr Porter said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he would work with the Government to help keep Australians safe but Labor would prefer to do it “properly the first time” rather than rush.
“I want to see convicted terrorists punished,” he said.
“And we’ll work with the Government to do it.”