Last week the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security recommended the passage of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 (Cth), while adding a number of recommendations that would narrow the application of the Bill’s provisions and improving oversight of its operation.
The controversial bill allows for the revocation of the citizenship of dual nationals involved in terrorism offences. For more information about the content of the bill, see TimeBase’s earlier article on the key changes proposed by the legislation.
The Committee made 26 suggestions for amendments in their full report. They noted in their concluding comments both the bipartisan support for the Bill, as well as acknowledging the community concerns raised throughout the three days of public hearings and in the 43 submissions and 7 supplementary submissions received by the Committee.
A media release sent out by the Committee summarises the key changes as follows:
According to the Australian Financial Review, Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton has indicated that all the recommendations would be adopted, meaning the bill should pass with bipartisan support. The paper also noted that advice from the Solicitor-General as to the constitutionality of the laws in the case of a High Court challenge was not provided to the Committee, although a letter was sent vouching for their validity.
University of Sydney constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey told the Sydney Morning Herald:
‘the changes would “vastly improve the bill” by “confining it more narrowly to pick up the things the government is actually trying to deal with and eliminating innocent people caught up on the edges.’
However, Law Council of Australia president Duncan McConnel told the Sydney Morning Herald he still had reservations about the bill, and
‘stressed there was still a "fundamental problem" in cases where there was no conviction because somebody – a public servant, intelligence official or bureaucrat – would have to decide that a suspect was indeed a terrorist, yet in the absence of a court ruling.’
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