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Judge For Yourself: Australian Citizenship Law Amendments

Jess Awad gives you the lowdown on proposed amendments to Australian citizenship laws so you can judge for yourself where you stand.

In early 2015, the House of Representatives proposed an amendment to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, titled the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill, for the purposes of providing explicit powers for the cessation of citizenship in circumstances where a dual-citizen engages in terrorism-related conduct.

The Bill recognises that with Australian citizenship comes reciprocal rights and obligations and that citizens may engage in conduct that is incompatible with the shared values of the Australian community – specifically, the terrorism-related conduct outlined in section 33AA(2). The main rationale is to eradicate this conduct by revoking the citizenship of any Australian who engages in said conduct.

While this seems to make a lot of sense, concerns have been raised about whether it is in breach of the Charter of Human Rights. However, it has been deemed compatible, placing only reasonable and proportionate limitations on rights to freedom of movement between countries and participation.

Another concern is whether it is in line with the rule of law. While there isn’t one agreed definition of what the doctrine of rule of law is, but it can be broadly defined as an overarching principle that ensures that all Australians are governed by laws which are administered justly and fairly. So the Bill may contravene the doctrine in that it’s uncertain that Commonwealth has the power to enact it, and there’s a risk it will capture conduct that is minor or unrelated.

The Bill is intended to be an effective way to protect and secure the safety of Australian people by taking a zero tolerance stance to terrorism-related behaviour such that the risk never arises.

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