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FOR – Bills — Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Bill 2023; Second Reading

Slade Brockman

In the very short time I've got available to me, I will just recap what we've seen from this government—the chaos, the dysfunction, the complete inability to act decisively on these issues, and the need for guidance from the opposition and particularly from the Leader of the Opposition, who is so experienced in these areas. I will go back to the words of the Minister for Home Affairs who said, on 16 November—not very many days ago—about the previous bill that went through this place, that the opposition 'never wrote laws as tough as this'. Then, a few hours later, they accepted all six amendments presented to them by Peter Dutton, the Leader of the Opposition. Once again, the opposition is having to help the government clean up its own mess—a mess caused by its own indecisive, confused response to the matters before the High Court, and its inability to recognise when it was making its arguments that there was a real risk of High Court decisions in this area and a real risk of a legislative response being required.

Instead of acting in the best interests of the Australian people, they chose to bury their heads in the sand and ignore the potential problem. As a result, we've had now weeks of indecisiveness, inaction, confusion, changed positions—'We don't need to legislate,' then suddenly, 'We do need to legislate.' 'The legislation is perfect,' but then, 'We accept six amendments from Peter Dutton.' The confusion, sadly, has put the Australian public at risk. That is a huge indictment of the government and something the Australia people will not forget.

David Shoebridge

The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Bill 2023 entrenches two classes of citizens in Australia. It's remarkable seeing Labor so comfortable with that. Labor, which traditionally has celebrated being the party of multicultural Australia, is saying to the great bulk of multicultural Australia that their Australian citizenship is worth less than that of many others in this country. The Greens don't believe in two classes of citizen—a class of citizen that the government can move the courts to strip the citizenship of, simply because they have a citizenship of another country, and the rest of Australia. It's offensive to the concept of us all being equal. It's offensive to the concept of a vibrant, dynamic and equal multicultural Australia. To see the Labor Party pushing through this bill with a bunch of opposition amendments that make it even easier to strip people's citizenship off them is a pretty depressing spectacle. In fact, there has been a list of depressing spectacles from Labor in the last two weeks, and this just joins the list of political surrenders from Labor.

I just want to be absolutely clear: the Greens don't support two classes of Australian citizen—a class that can be marginalised, discriminated against and have their citizenship stripped off them by an angry government, which might be responding to a shock jock campaign, and the rest of Australia. In the Greens' view of this country, all citizens are equal and all citizens should have that fundamental right of citizenship. It should not be able to be stripped off them by a vindictive minister who brings an application in a court to strip that citizenship off them.

Labor's defence of this bill is: it's better having a minister bring an application and then a court adjudicating than just having the minister do it all. Well, what about we take a more principled approach, and we just say that Australian citizenship is not there to be stripped, and, if an Australian citizen commits a wrong, then we'll deal with them as an Australian citizen and we won't pretend to deal with people equally while holding the threat of stripping the citizenship off, potentially, millions of Australian citizens who fit into a class of citizen that the coalition thinks is lesser? We just fundamentally reject that, and that's why we reject this bill.

Gerard Rennick

I rise today to speak on the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Bill 2023. This is a result of Labor's mismanagement of immigration. This isn't anything new. We saw it under the previous Labor government, under Kevin Rudd, when Chris Bowen was the minister for immigration. We saw over a thousand people die at sea because of Labor's mismanagement of border protection issues. As a result of that, we also saw 50,000 people go through detention facilities. I'm not sure if there are still some of those people there now, but it took almost a decade to reduce that figure to less than a thousand.

This causes immense hardship, it causes immense tragedy and, of course, it wastes billions of dollars in taxpayers' funds. With this Labor government, this year we're on track to have almost 600,000. We're currently running at half a million, but we may very well end up in the next 12 months with 600,000 immigrants because Labor will not control the borders.

In relation to the High Court case, there was plenty of warning that the High Court could possibly make the decision that it did make, but what was the Labor Party doing? They were off virtue-signalling about the Voice. It was all feelings and not facts. The great disappointment of the Australian Labor Party under Anthony Albanese is that their first 18 months in government has been all about virtue-signalling and not dealing with the basics of running a government. It's very easy in opposition to cast slurs and mock people when they actually go into the detail, but, when you're in government, you've got to drill down into the detail. You've got to take the day-to-day concerns of people very, very seriously. Australians take their border protection and law and order very seriously. It is not a joke.

Some of these people who have been released are hardened criminals. It isn't a question of equal rights or anything like that; it is about applying law and order. Already, we've had one particular person involved in sexual allegations, and another person who is a convicted sex offender has been contacting juveniles on social media. That the Labor Party was asleep at the wheel when these people were released just isn't good enough. So we need to amend the legislation to correct the High Court's decision. I'm not sure why and how they come to these decisions. Heaven only knows, but I well remember that the Mabo decision was a 4-3 outcome. It is the highest court in the land, and it was a split decision. That's the problem with the courts. It's all very much based on feelings and not enough logic. I don't know how many times you've seen in the High Court major decisions split down the middle. You've just got to wonder sometimes how such important matters can be so divided amongst supposedly the best legal minds in the country.

I want to make one particular point about this bill. When someone who has a monitoring device removes their monitoring device, there is a carve-out in this particular legislation from treating that as a serious offence. I think that, if anyone is released on parole with a monitoring device, they should have to keep that monitoring device on. If they deliberately remove that device, that should be considered a serious offence. It's not unreasonable, especially when, as I've just pointed out, some of these people have already got convictions and have already engaged in misconduct since they've been released—

Nick McKim

We've got a freedom problem in this country.

Gerard Rennick

Senator McKim, I'll take that interjection because this isn't about freedom. This is about applying law and order.

It is about applying law and order so that Australian people feel safe in their own country.

Glenn Sterle

Resume your seat, Senator Rennick. I do allow a little bit of leeway, but I would ask that senators just be heard in silence. Senator Rennick.

Gerard Rennick

I commend this bill in the hope that it does improve the monitoring and treatment of dangerous detainees in detention and that it makes sure that we uphold law and order in this country and keep Australians safe.

Long debate text truncated.


Date and time: 10:55 AM on 2023-12-06
Senator Pocock's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 30
Total number of "no" votes: 26
Total number of abstentions: 20
Related bill: Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Repudiation) Bill 2023

Adapted from information made available by