Subjects: Strengthening citizenship requirements.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton will be given sweeping new powers to stop criminals from being granted Australian citizenship. Laws to go before Parliament this week will reportedly allow Mr Dutton to override any court that grants citizenship to criminals.
The Minister will also be able to set aside decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if they're not in the public interest.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton joins me now. Minister, good morning, thanks for coming on.
Now why have you made or are intending to make these changes. Have you lost confidence in the courts?
Just to clarify one point, what we're talking about here is just providing the same arrangement that we do for visas now. So if there is a visa cancellation as you saw a story a couple of weeks ago where six Iranians had their visas cancelled. They went back to Iran for holidays et cetera. The AAT overturned that decision that was made and under the current law the Minister of the day has the ability to substitute a new decision for the decision the AAT made.
So it’s not overruling any court there is still the ability to go to the Federal Court etc this is really just trying to align the arrangement in terms of citizenship with the laws that exist in relation to the granting and cancellation of visas now.
OK, assuming these changes are passed, how often do you expect to overrule decisions on citizenship? How often do you intend to invoke those powers?
Not very often.
There were three cases I think that were pointed out in the paper today where somebody had, as a paedophile, had had their decision by the AAT changed so that they had the ability to become Australian citizen. People that are involved in serious crime or terrorist activities, for example, I’d been keen to make sure those people do not become Australian citizens.
So I think we're just reflecting modern reality Kochie, making sure that people who become Australian citizens are going to abide by Australian laws and values.
We would have expected the tribunal to have done that job anyhow, refused them.
Well it’s pretty hard to accept some of the decisions that they make, as I say…….
…….so you have lost confidence in them…...
I think some of the decisions they make are rightly overturned and I’ve done that in relation to a number of cases. We have been very deliberate in cancelling visas of people who have committed crimes, outlaw motorcycle gangs for example, who are the biggest distributors of ice in this country; we have cancelled a record number of their visas.
The way in which the law operates now is, they can then appeal to the AAT, but the Minister of the day can then substitute that decision of the appeal tribunal.
So we're just aligning it with the current law.
I think everyone would agree with that.
Now young migrants may have citizenship refused and their visa revoked if they fail to pass a character test. What is involved in that character test?
Let's take a good example, a live example at the moment of the gang violence that people are seeing play out on the streets of Melbourne.
It is a terrible situation down there with the APEX gang. My view is that if 15, 16, 17 year olds are involved in adult-like criminal behaviour; that is, following people home from restaurants, breaking into their houses, home invasions, stealing cars etc, breaking into jewellery shops whatever it might be, at the moment they might be on an automatic pathway to citizenship because their parents have been granted citizenship.
But what I am saying is that they need to conduct themselves within the law, if they don't, they fail that good character test, then they could stay on a permanent visa depending on the arrangement, but they would not be getting Australian citizenship.
Fair enough. Pretty hard to argue against I reckon. Thanks for joining us Minister.