By | Migration Agent Sydney, News | 27 May 2015
Prime Minister Tony Abott has announced a plan that will strip Australian dual nationals of their citizenship if the Immigration Minister suspects they have enlisted with terrorists, regardless of whether the alleged crime can be proven in court.
Dual-nationals stripped of their Australian citizenship by the Immigration Minister would be allowed to seek review of the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and Federal Court. Tony Abbott has been quoted as saying:
“There are a lot of Australians overseas right now — about 100 — fighting with terrorist groups in the Middle East; 40 to 50 per cent appear to be dual Nationals”
“Under the legislation that we intend to introduce in the next few weeks, if the minister is satisfied …, he may, subject ultimately to judicial review, strip the Australian citizenship from those individuals and obviously they will then no longer have an entitlement to return to Australia".
“We will be ensuring that as far as we can humanly make it, no-one becomes stateless, and any decision by the minister to strip … a dual national of Australian citizenship, will be subject to judicial review.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said he should be allowed to cancel citizenship on the basis of intelligence, regardless of whether a crime has been proven. The citizenship policy was reportedly opposed by six cabinet members including Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Attorney-General George Brandis, Nationals deputy Barnaby Joyce, Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull with good reason.
What ever happened to the rule of law? The writer believes that removing the natural justice process opens the way for tyranny and having authoritarian figures in government make such decisions without a fair and impartial process makes us no better than the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein, Libya under Gaddafi's rule and now Syria under President Bashar Al Assad.
In the 2003 High Court case of Re Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs; Ex parte Lam, Chief Justice Gleeson explained the notion of natural justice at paragraph 37 of his reasons for decision: “Fairness is not an abstract concept. It is essentially practical. Whether one talks in terms of procedural fairness or natural justice, the concern of the law is to avoid practical injustice”. A decision maker must give a person who is the subject of the decision an adequate opportunity to present their case (the fair hearing rule) and must make a decision free from actual or apprehended bias (unbiased decision-maker).
Whilst I object to any participation in terrorist activities by Australian citizens (or anyone for that matter), I do not agree with the Prime Ministers proposed changes to the Citizenship Act as I don't want to see Australia turned into a dictatorship.