I rise to contribute to the debate on the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015. There are two questions that come out of this government legislation. First, should Australians who betray us by supporting our enemies be stripped of their citizenship, and should they hold a second citizenship? Absolutely. Second, should a politician and not a court make the decision to strip treasonous individuals of Australian citizenship? Absolutely not.
The Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Greg Craven, put the argument best when he wrote on 4 June this year:
By conferring a profoundly judicial power on a minister, it mocks the separation of powers. It would be swatted down like a bug by the High Court.
As a new senator, I know that the last thing you would knowingly do as a legislator is to pass laws that are in breach of our Constitution and that would likely be ruled against by the High Court. It would mean that all the effort and time spent presenting and passing this legislation would be wasted. So, before I make a decision to support or oppose this bill, I would like the Attorney-General to give an assurance in his summation to this Senate that he will resign from the nation's first law officer's position should this bill pass and should it subsequently be successfully challenged in the High Court.
If the Attorney-General can give that guarantee, then I will know that he has got some political skin in the passage of this legislation and that it has not been presented as another political stunt to give the appearance that the government is doing something. I believe that this government can do more legislatively to take the fight to our Islamic State enemies but has instead taken the easier path of fiddling with our citizenship laws instead of going straight to the heart of the matter at a time when we find ourselves under attack from within and without and charging Australian citizens who help our enemy in any way whatsoever. If we were debating laws which strengthened our existing sedition and treason laws designed for these very circumstances, I would feel a hell of a lot more comfortable.
My position on the way our federal authorities have managed suspected Australian terrorists and terrorist sympathisers is clear. If a government has enough evidence to confiscate passports and stop people from travelling to the Middle East to fight with ISIS, then we have enough evidence to charge them with sedition or treason. Quite clearly, those Australian citizens not only have a formal allegiance to a foreign power—as spoken about in section 44(i) of our Constitution—but also have a formal allegiance to a hostile foreign power which has obviously declared war on us. And the government still have not given me or this Senate a proper answer as to why they refuse to charge suspected terrorists, their Australian sympathisers and accomplices with sedition and treason. One sedition or treason trial in our courts would do more for de-radicalisation than any control order or any government handout to the Islamic community.
One sedition or treason trial in our courts would also educate our citizens about the fact that being an Australian citizen means that you cannot have divided loyalties—and certainly not with hostile foreign powers. On Canberra's Lake Burley Griffin, on the Menzies Walk, set in stone, is Australia's oath of allegiance, which is sworn by new citizens. It reads:
As an Australian citizen, I affirm my loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I uphold and obey.
To some people they are some of the most sweetest-tasting words they have ever spoken; to some they are just words—once said, they will be quickly forgotten; and to others, they have been forced out and taste like poison, because they stand for the opposite of that person's values. These are the Islamic State supporters who hate our democratic values, who are disgusted by our civil rights and freedoms and will do everything they can to subvert, disobey and overthrow or laws and replace them with their sharia law.
Support for sharia law shows a clear sign of extreme radicalization; shows a split or divided loyalty to Australia and a clear sign of allegiance to hostile foreign powers; and attacks democratic principles found in Australia's Constitution and therefore is a clear sign of seditious or treasonous behaviour worthy of investigation and possible charges. It is an indisputable fact, backed up by many daily, gruesome and brutal examples, that states, countries and communities which support and enforce sharia law allow the death penalty by beheading or stoning to be imposed from a religious court on those found guilty of being homosexual, adulterous or choose to become atheists; allow their governments to torture, mutilate and remove the limbs of those, including children, found guilty by a religious court of property offences, including theft; allow their governments to strip women of the basic civil rights of freedom of thought, religion, assembly and equality before the law; allow their governments to discriminate against women by making it illegal for them to attend sporting fixtures, drive, drink alcohol, smoke, have sex before marriage, appear in public without a male chaperone, and seek an education; allow their government to encourage, tolerate or turn a blind eye to female genital mutilation and forced marriages; and allow their government to encourage, sanction, tolerate or turn a blind eye to the reintroduction of human trafficking and slavery.
Surely many Islamic people can peacefully practise their religion without supporting and advocating for sharia, or the terrorists' law. I call on all Australian Islamic leaders and leaders of other religions to condemn those who do support sharia law. If they do not condemn sharia law then, at the very least, they should not be allowed to preach hate on Fridays to impressionable young minds. I also call on the Federal Police and the federal Attorney to use longstanding, existing laws and charge with treason or sedition those citizens who support in any way whatsoever the imposition of sharia, the terrorists’ law, in Australia.
One of the problems that immigrants, particularly people from the Middle East, have is that they have no respect for or understanding of our democratic beliefs. To a degree that is understandable, because in the Middle East there really are not many functioning democracies which show a respect for Australian human rights, liberties and the rule of law. Apart from Israel, which shines a light in a very dark and dangerous neighbourhood, the majority of the Middle East is ruled by corrupt governments which, putting it nicely, are antidemocratic.
In these days where everyone is scared of political correctness, people are afraid of being seen to be discriminating against anybody. But it is okay to discriminate against people with respect to their attitude towards democracy. Like most fair-minded Australians, I do not care what colour you are, what ethnicity or race you are or whether you are a man, woman or transgender: you deserve to live a life free of discrimination. However, if you think that you can come to Australia and undermine Australia's laws, democratic values and human rights under the guise of cultural practices, then I am going to discriminate against you. It is okay to discriminate in favour of democracy and Western human rights and liberties, because we love them. That is why so many Australians died fighting in world conflicts—because of their love for their family, their friends, their mates, their country and our democratic way of life. At various points in world history, violent bastards who controlled large militaries and who hated democracy, civil rights and Western freedoms have tried to impose their sick culture upon us by force of arms. It was then up to the people who proudly discriminate in favour of democracy to take up arms and defend the innocent and our way of life.
I will now turn to the existing powers that the immigration minister has to revoke Australian citizenship. A Parliamentary Library research brief on this legislation states:
A June 2015 report by the Australian National Audit Office states that Australian citizenship has been revoked in only 16 cases over the 66 years in which Australia has offered citizenship. The provision under which a person’s citizenship ceases due to service in a foreign armed force has reportedly never been used.
The proposed amendments in the Bill represent what has been described by the Director of the Centre for International and Public Law, Professor Kim Rubenstein, as ‘a major change to the current Citizenship Act, in that the current Act only has extremely limited ways in which a person can lose their citizenship’.
It is appropriate in this debate that we remind ourselves of the powers that the minister has to revoke citizenship. The Parliamentary Library research brief on this legislation states:
Under the Citizenship Act as it currently stands, there are four main ways a person’s Australian citizenship may cease. Specifically, where:
a person explicitly renounces their citizenship in an application approved by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (the Minister)
the Minister revokes the person’s citizenship on the basis of a conviction for an offence relating to fraud in the course of obtaining Australian citizenship, or for conviction for certain offences after applying for, but before being granted, Australian citizenship
the Minister revokes the person’s citizenship for failure to fulfil residence conditions associated with becoming an Australian citizen or
the person is a national or citizen of another country and serves in the armed forces of a country at war with Australia; this is a ‘self-executing’ provision, that is, it applies automatically at the time the person’s service commences.
The first and last of these apply to Australian citizens by birth; the Ministerial revocation provisions do not. If a person ceases to hold Australian citizenship for any of the reasons outlined above, the Minister may revoke the Australian citizenship of any dependent children provided certain conditions are met, including that the child would not be rendered stateless.
You can lose your citizenship in three new ways. According to the government's explanatory notes:
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.
According to Australia's national security website, currently 20 organisations are listed as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code. The 17th on that list is the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK. The PKK was listed on 17 December 2005 and re-listed 28 September 2007, 8 September 2009, 18 August 2012 and 11 August 2015. The PKK is one of the most effective ground fighting forces against ISIS. They are heroic in their war against the Islamic State brutes.
In my view, after meeting with the Kurdish community delegation at Parliament House, they are strongly supported by the Kurdish community of Australia. Estimates records confirm that Australia's military along with American military supports the PKK with supplies and humanitarian aid and, most likely, arms in order to help their fight against Islamic terrorists. Apart from the obvious question of how is it possible and legal for Australia's military to resupply and help a supposed official terrorist organisation, the next question in the context of this legislation is: can an Australian citizen who is part of our Kurdish community and who has dual citizenship, be stripped of their Australian citizenship after this bill passes this Senate?
As this bill reads, it is a threat to the citizenship of members of Australia's Kurdish community. A minister, not an impartial judicial process, can strip members of our Kurdish communities of their Australian citizenship. This takes me back to an expert legal opinion I read at the start of my speech by the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University, Greg Craven, who said:
By conferring a profoundly judicial power on a minister, it mocks the separation of powers. It would be swatted down like a bug by the High Court.
This legislation is a farce. It will be proven to be a farce and a waste of taxpayers' money and time in the High Court of Australia when it eventually happens.
It will not do anything to better protect Australians from the threat that Islamic State terrorists and their supporters who live amongst us, and who are supported by our welfare system, pose to us. We are in a war where our opponents are not limited by any rule of humanity. They do not care how they kill us—the more gruesome the better; certainly for social media effects. Islamic terrorists will use every weapon including nerve gas, poisons, chemicals, bacteria and radiation—whatever it takes—to kill us.
We are in war to an extinction of one side. It is kill or be killed. It is time to get real and to get tough in our fight against Islamic State. Islamic State wants to impose sharia law on the world. We must treat support for sharia law, the terrorist law, by an Australian as a sign of Islamic radicalisation. Support by people living in Australia for the terrorist law should be treated as clear evidence of treason and seditious activity, and those people should be charged with sedition or treason. If Australians are found guilty of sedition or treason, they should face between seven years and life in jail. Islamic preachers in Australia who advocate for sharia law in Australia must be immediately banned and once again charged with sedition and treason.
Terrorists who kill in their attacks on Australian soil and who then survive and are brought before a court, should be subjected to a death penalty if an Australian jury decides that is the best way of delivering justice. Imagine if Man Haron Monis had survived the Sydney Lindt cafe attack. Should an Australian jury have had the option of sentencing the traitor and murderer to death? Absolutely, and I think you will find the majority of Australians would support that.
Australia must double the size of our military. If every full-time member of our Defence Force was put in the MCG we would barely fill half of it—shame! We have 57,000 full-time troops—get real. We can boost the size of the military by introducing a voluntary national service and trade training scheme for our young people. Why would young people volunteer for national service? If our young people are not going to earn, learn or serve and be trained in our military then they should not receive any welfare payments. That is why we do not have to make national service compulsory—how about that. There would be a strong financial incentive for young Australians to get a job, continue their studies or join our military and serve and learn. This would change Australian culture for the better and strengthen our nation for the hard road which is in front of us.
In closing, last week I expressed my solidarity and sympathies with France after those terrible attacks by Islamic supporters of sharia law. This week I would also like to acknowledge the role that the state of Israel plays in the global fight against Islamic radicalisation. The Jewish people have shown grace, compassion, common sense and bravery under extreme attacks by people who want to wipe them from the face of the earth. It is only now after Islamic state declared war on us that we are slowly coming to the realisation that our enemy is merciless and will not stop until we are dead or we are converted to their way of life.
The Jewish people have known this truth for many years and have made preparations to properly protect their grandchildren from this madness and terror which comes from the Middle East. Australia can learn a lot from the Jewish people. Indeed, some of Australia's greatest citizen leaders and protectors of freedom have been Jewish. When the Liberals are prepared to stop pussy footing around with half-linked terrorism legislation, and are prepared to tackle terrorism head on, please wake me up and then you may get my support. I absolutely oppose this bill.