After several months of deliberations and amendments, the Australian government introduced the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 to Parliament on 24 June 2015. The introduction of the new Bill has altered the face of citizenship laws, allowing the government to block the return of dual citizens who have been suspected of terrorism. However the Bill also further allows the government to revoke the citizenship of a person even if they have not been convicted by the court of any terrorism related offences.
The Bill, titled Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 states that the Act has been implemented because the federal government identifies that
Australian citizenship is a common bond, involving reciprocal rights and obligations, and that citizens may, through certain conduct incompatible with the shared values of the Australian community, demonstrate that they have severed that bond and repudiated their allegiance.
A person may be exempted from having their citizenship revoked on the basis of judicial review, however the Bill does not detail the exact process by which this may take place.
Insight into the new law – why the Australian Citizenship Amendment has been introduced
The Bill introduces three additional categories which include:
- Fighting for a terrorist organisation: Any foreign citizen or national engaging or participating in warfare for a declared terrorist organisation as per the named terrorist organisations list, will have their Australian citizenship automatically revoked.
- Convictions for certain offences: Any foreign citizen or national convicted of any criminal offence will have their citizenship automatically revoked. The offence list includes crimes ranging from treason, terrorism-related offences, invoking or inciting violence, advocating terrorism, possessing items related to acts of terrorism, deliberately damaging Commonwealth property.
- Acting inconsistently with your allegiance to Australia: Any foreign citizen or national “acts inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia” will have their citizenship revoked. Essentially if an individual renounces that they are not Australian might potentially face having their citizenship revoked, raising questions in regards to the constitutional validity of this clause.
Implications for Australian citizens
It has been estimated that 27.7 per cent of population (6.4 million people) was born overseas and an approximately 4-5 million hold dual citizenship which means inherently one third of the Australian population are either foreign citizens or foreign nationals.
The introduction of this newly amended Bill has certainly raised a few eyebrows in regards to the constitutional rights of Australian citizens, such as whether a citizen will be able to challenge the revocation of their citizenship, the extent of power that the Parliament will possess in repealing an individual’s citizenship and whether the individual will be allowed to ever enter into Australian territory.
If you are worried about your citizenship status, or wish to discuss a migration matter, contact our office on 02 8917 8700 or fill out the enquiry box and we will get back to you ASAP!