Thursday, 22 November 2018
Media release

Joint Media Release with the Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister - Combatting Australian terrorists

The Government is taking strong action to keep Australians safe.

The Government will seek to change the Australian Citizenship Act so dual citizens convicted of a terrorism offence in Australia could lose Australian citizenship irrespective of the sentence they receive. 

Similar to the United Kingdom, the Government will develop a new Temporary Exclusion Orders scheme so Australians involved in terrorism overseas would be legally unable to return to Australia for up to two years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government was constantly reviewing Australia's laws and capabilities.

"We'll do everything we can to stay ahead of the evolving threat of terrorism to keep Australians safe," the Prime Minister said.

"The terrorist attack on Bourke Street in Melbourne on 9 November, and the recent arrests which thwarted an alleged terrorist attack, highlight once again the importance of robust measures to protect our community.

"Australia cannot be complacent.

"Our changes will make it easier to strip terrorists of their Australian citizenship. Terrorists forfeit their rights to be Australians when they carry out their evil acts."

Mr Dutton said while three more dual citizens had lost Australian citizenship under the existing legislation because of their involvement with terrorist organisations offshore, taking the total to nine, more needed to be done.  

"We now need to focus attention on strengthening the citizenship loss provisions which commenced in 2015 as they relate to terrorists within Australia, in order to protect our community."

The proposed changes would enable the Minister to cease the citizenship of anyone who is convicted of a terrorism offence in Australia, irrespective of the sentence they receive.  This removes the current requirement that a terrorist offender must be sentenced to at least six years' imprisonment.

The Government will also change the threshold for determining dual citizenship. This change aims to improve the Minister's scope to determine a person's foreign citizenship status.

"We assess there are around 50 Australian dual citizens who may be eligible to lose citizenship under the current provisions, and even more with the changes we are announcing today," Mr Dutton said.

The new Temporary Exclusion Orders scheme would enable authorities to delay, and then monitor and control, the return and re-entry to our community of Australian foreign fighters.

"We don't want these people in our country," the Prime Minister said.

"These Orders will mean we deal with Australians who travelled to the conflict zone in Iraq and Syria as far from our shores as possible."

"The Australian Government's first priority is to keep our community safe from those who seek to do us harm, and we will continue to keep our legislation and capabilities under constant review to meet emerging needs," Mr Dutton said.