The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 was introduced into parliament at the end of June 2015. The following information comes from the explanatory memorandum:
The Bill introduces three new ways in which a person, who is a national or citizen of a country other than Australia, can cease to be an Australian citizen:
- the person renounces their Australian citizenship if the person acts inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia by engaging in specified terrorist-related conduct;
- the person ceases to be an Australian citizen if the person fights for, or is in the service of, a declared terrorist organisation. A declared terrorist organisation is any terrorist organisation as defined by the Criminal Code and declared by the Minister to apply;
- the person ceases to be an Australian citizen if the person is convicted of a specified terrorism offence as prescribed in the Criminal Code .
The proposed amendments are intended to capture those dual citizens who, by acting against the interests of Australia by choosing to engage in terrorism, have by this conduct repudiated their allegiance to Australia, thereby renouncing their Australian citizenship.
The operation of these provisions are by operation of law and do not necessitate the Minister making a decision. That is, a person’s own conduct, specified in the new sections 33AA, 35 and 35A will be the cause of the person’s citizenship to cease.
The amendments in the Bill:
- apply to a person who is an Australian citizen regardless of how the person became an Australian citizen, including a person who became an Australian citizen upon the person’s birth;
- will not result in a person becoming stateless. The Bill only applies to persons who are a national or citizen of a country other than Australia, that is, dual citizens, and who would therefore not be rendered stateless if their Australian citizenship were to cease;
- prevent a person from re-obtaining Australian citizenship where they have ceased to be an Australian citizen under the three new provisions providing for citizenship to cease. The person can never become an Australian citizen again unless the Minister exempts the operation of the relevant cessation provision;
- requires the Minister to give written notice of the automatic cessation of Australian citizenship to such persons as the Minister considers appropriate;
- allows the Minister to rescind the written notice and exempt a person from automatic cessation of their Australian citizenship if the Minister considers it is in the public interest to do so;
- protects the disclosure of information in circumstances that would prejudice national security. The protection of such information is necessary to protect information; however, the courts will have access to the information in accordance with two existing mechanisms to manage such information in litigation: public interest immunity (PII) and the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act 2004 (the NSI Act).
The amendments in the Bill do not limit the application of judicial review.