This week in Australia, the foreign minister Julie Bishop announced that she will revoke the citizenship of those 150 Australians that are fighting in Syria, and refuse to issue passports to those who wish to join the militant groups.
She stated, “I have used my authority under the Australian Passport Act to cancel and refuse to issue passports where the government suspects an individual posses a threat to our security.”
Australia has joined other countries including Britain who are using the right to citizenship as a way of controlling any undesired element in their countries.
This concern is understandable, as governments do not wish for these highly trained and potentially radicalised soldiers to return to their shores, looking for a new war and using their skills to endanger their fellow citizens.
However the Black Caucus wishes to debate the precedent that this might set and how the Australian Passport act might be abused in the future.
How will governments define “…threats to our security”?
Is a threat someone who will cause physical harm? Is a threat someone who will cause civil unrest? Is a threat someone who does not agree with a government or populist opinion?
Maybe citizenship would be revoked on something as intangible as whether your actions are “unAustralian”
Will the government skip past the traditional concepts of crime and punishment of its citizens to simply ship the problems off to the shores of someone else?
The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, Bret Walker SC in a report that was tabled in parliament this week stated:
“The INSLM is concerned that the concept of dual-citizenship raises issues of divided loyalties and does not see why, as a matter of policy, an Australian citizen should also be able to be a citizen of another country.”
So not only is Australia reserving the right to revoke your citizenship, but it is also revoking your right to go anywhere else.
Does this recommendation apply to all Australians with dual citizenship, or just those who have citizenship with traditionally non white countries?
There are two main issues here that both deserve an article and debate of their own.
The first is whether a country has the right to control its citizens, not just by laws, taxes and punishment, but now with the fear of being disowned by a country in which they were potentially born, raised and paid taxes.
The second is the fact that the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor does not believe that Australians should be entitled to dual citizenship.
If you have two passports in your possession, which one would you give up?
The Black Caucus does not support terrorism and does not support the atrocities around the world.
This debate is about the meaning of citizenship.
What does it mean to an individual to be a citizen of a country?
What can an individual expect from their country?
What must a citizen give to that country?
What does it mean to a country to have citizens?
What freedoms and restrictions can a country legitimately impose upon its citizens before they start to impose upon their civil liberties?
In a country founded on continuous immigration, are we all really so unsophisticated that we suddenly cannot grasp the concept, rights and responsibilities of dual nationality?
If everyone with a dual passport left, would that leave an Australia in which you would wish to live?