Gillian Triggs spoke out last week about the regional “consequences” of the government’s policy of turning back asylum-seeker boats and called on MPs to uphold the rule of law as they prepared to debate extraordinary new ministerial powers to revoke citizenship of suspected terrorists.
The Human Rights Commission president delivered a forthright speech on Friday in which she criticised the major political parties for teaming up to pass “scores of laws” over the past 15 years that threatened fundamental rights and freedoms.
The Coalition is expected to produce legislation in the next parliamentary sittings to grant the immigration minister the power to revoke the Australian citizenship of a person who was deemed to be involved in terrorism but may not have been convicted of a crime.
Triggs cited the yet-to-be-defined proposal as an example of the “overreach of executive power” and said the debate seemed to be “between the subjective suspicions of a minister versus an evidence-based determination by a judge according to established rule of law”.
Dutton said the UK had granted its home secretary strong powers to strip people of citizenship and it was “not a legal backwater by any stretch of the imagination”.
The government believed it was “a decision for the minister of the day, because we are elected by the people to make these tough decisions”, he told Channel Ten’s Bolt Report.
Asked why the minister, and not a court, would make the decision,
Dutton said: “Well, because we need ministerial discretion around some of the particular cases. So where the 17-year-old Australian goes across and is involved in beheadings and strapping vests on to other young kids who then go off and do suicide bombings – that person may present a very different case than the 17-year-old who went across, got cold feet at the airport and decided to come back home. If we had a black-letter operation of the law and there was no discretion, I think we would get anomalies …
We’re not trying to impose this as a criminal sanction.”
Dutton confirmed the powers would be able to be used against people regardless of whether they were located in Australia or were overseas.
“If they’re involved in the name of terrorism, and their activities are able to be defined within a few sections of the criminal code that we’ve said we’ll put into legislation – if they’re deemed to be a terrorist or acting in support of those terrorists, fundraising, [doing] acts preparatory to, all of those which we’ve defined in the legislation – if they fall within that category and we don’t render them stateless, whether they’re here or they’re offshore, we will strip citizenship from them under this proposal,” he said.
new powers in relation to dual nationals, it has deferred a decision about allowing the immigration minister to revoke citizenship from sole nationals who may be able to apply for citizenship elsewhere. how do they decide in lieu of other countries?
public consultation: the government would not leave anyone stateless and would allow people to lodge a judicial review against a ministerial decision to strip them of their citizenship.
Bolt: “I don’t understand what the problem is with making people stateless. I mean they joined Islamic State.
Good luck to them. Why should I care if they no longer have, you know, any citizenship from here? What’s the problem?”
Dutton replied: “Well, we’ve signed a convention saying that we won’t render somebody stateless so we abide by that principle.”