Court move 'renders law toothless'

EXCLUSIVE Andrew Probyn, Federal Political Editor
Court move 'renders law toothless'

The Abbott Government will fight attempts to give courts any role in revoking Australian citizenship from dual nationals, believing that this would render the law “toothless”.

A brief prepared for Cabinet ministers, obtained by The West Australian, shows that the Prime Minister is intent on using the citizenship issue to maximise pressure on the Labor Party.

READ THE DOCUMENT HERE

The Government wants to give the Immigration Minister the power to strip dual nationals of their citizenship, with only limited judicial review.

Critics say such a proposal breaches the separation of powers doctrine by giving a minister a power that should rest with the justice system.

The four-page Question Time Brief, which is marked “CONFIDENTIAL”, shows the Government is determined to challenge this precept.

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“Why should this power be exercised by a Minister and not the courts?” the brief poses, before providing the suggested answer:

“A law requiring a terrorist conviction would be toothless,” it reads.

“The vast majority of the fifty-odd Australian dual nationals fighting with terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq would retain their citizenship if a conviction was required.

“In many cases law enforcement agencies will know an Australian has been fighting with terrorist groups but will be unable to present sufficient eligible evidence to secure a conviction.

“Australians expect us to take every reasonable step to deal with those who are a danger to the community. Does Bill Shorten want a toothless law or one that actually protects the community.”

The ministerial brief is heavy with political rhetoric, confirming the Government intends to use the issue to wedge the Opposition.

“The Government knows where it stands on terrorists who are dual citizens - Labor does not,” the brief says.

“We want to know where Labor stands because none of us should give succour to those who would take up arms against our soldiers or do the Australian people harm.”

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