The following recommendations from the Committee’s Advisory Report on the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 are directly relevant to the proposed amendments in the current Bill.
The Committee recommends that proposed section 35A of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 be amended to give the Minister discretion to revoke a person’s citizenship following conviction for a relevant offence with a sentence applied of at least six years’ imprisonment, or multiple sentences totalling at least six years’ imprisonment.
In exercising this discretion, the Minister should be satisfied that:
the person’s conviction demonstrates that they have repudiated their allegiance to Australia, and
it is not in the public interest for the person to remain an Australian citizen, taking into account the following factors:
the seriousness of the conduct that was the basis of the
conviction and the severity of the sentence/s,
the degree of threat to the Australian community,
the age of the person and, for a person under 18, the best interests of the child as a primary consideration,
whether the affected person would be able to access citizenship rights in their other country of citizenship or nationality, and the extent of their connection to that country,
Australia international obligations and relations, and
any other factors in the public interest.
The rules of natural justice should apply to the Minister’s discretion under section 35A.
The Committee recommends that the list of relevant offences in proposed section 35A of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 be amended to exclude offences that carry a maximum penalty of less than 10 years’ imprisonment and certain Crimes Act offences that have never been used.
The Committee notes that the following offences would be removed:
Section 80.2, Criminal Code Act 1995, Urging violence against the Constitution, the Government, a lawful authority of the Government,
an election, or a referendum,
Section 80.2A(1) Criminal Code Act 1995, Urging violence against groups,
Section 80.2B(1) Criminal Code Act 1995, Urging violence against members of groups,
Section 80.2C, Criminal Code Act 1995, Advocating terrorism,
Section 25 Crimes Act 1914, Inciting mutiny against the Queen’s Forces,
Section 26 Crimes Act 1914, Assisting prisoners of war to escape, and
Section 27(1) Crimes Act 1914, Unlawful drilling.
The Committee recommends that proposed section 35A of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 be applied retrospectively to convictions for relevant offences where sentences of ten years or more have been handed down by a court.
The Ministerial discretion to revoke citizenship must not apply to convictions that have been handed down more than ten years before the Bill receives Royal Assent.