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Banishment from the Kingdom

The Allegiance to Australia Bill introduces an ingenious form of government control that we all should be concerned about, writes Eva Cripps.

If you’re a fan of fantasy fiction, the concept of banishment from the kingdom is hardly new. The protagonist will often start out in the bad books, living on the fringes of society. They fight the evil overlords until victorious, and then the broken ruler is banished forever more. It’s a common plot line, reused and remade. It appeals to all kinds of personalities and reaffirms the concept of what allegiance to the kingdom means. If a person is bad, they will lose their right to live in their home country and their right to see their family and friends. And if they are good, they will live happily ever after.

Reminiscent of medieval times, it is hardly surprising that the punishment of being banished from the kingdom has been loudly promoted by the Abbott Government. This would appeal to the conservative, ‘if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear’ mindset of the national leaders.

It strikes the perfect balance between hero and bastard.

What Prime Minister wouldn’t take the opportunity to show just how serious he is about National Security? And who can argue with a Prime Minister who can turn around and deport you if you just happen to be a dual citizen and engage in certain activities that offend him?

It should also not be a surprise that Abbott, still deeply in love with the Mother Country, would fervently adopt a 200 year old policy of shipping criminals abroad.

The new Allegiance to Australia Bill ingeniously includes a new way to punish those who threaten the Government and the sanctity of the white, conservative, capitalist Australia. And the best part about it is that for certain provisions, the Government doesn’t have to prove a thing.

Putting aside the fact that a dual citizen could face deportation if convicted of scribbling in pen on a table in a Centrelink office (See section 35A of the new Bill and section 29 of the Crimes Act 1914, which makes it an offence to damage or destroy Commonwealth property), there is a range of other activities for which no conviction is required.

It is not just criminals who may fall foul of the proposed Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015. A criminal is someone who has been convicted of an offence. New provisions include ‘renunciation and cessation of citizenship’ by what is essentially the act of doing something that does not have to be proven in court. There is no fair trial by an impartial adjudicator. In fact, the act specifically excludes the right to natural justice which includes things like procedural fairness, the right to see evidence and defend oneself.

Section 33AA of the new Bill provides that:

  • Subject to this section, a person who is a national or citizen of a country other than Australia renounces their Australian citizenship if the person acts inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia by engaging in conduct specified in subsection (2).

Subsection 2 includes:

  • engaging in international terrorist activities using explosive or lethal devices;
  • engaging in a terrorist act;
  • providing or receiving training connected with preparation for, engagement in, or assistance in a terrorist act;
  • directing the activities of a terrorist organisation;
  • recruiting for a terrorist organisation;
  • financing terrorism;
  • financing a terrorist;
  • engaging in foreign incursions and recruitment.

It further states that:

  • Where a person renounces their Australian citizenship under this section, the renunciation takes effect, and the Australian citizenship of the person ceases, immediately upon the person engaging in the conduct referred to in subsection (2).

No doubt this all sounds perfectly fine to the vast majority of Australians. The new Act is clearly designed to target those who support ISIS. And the vast majority of Australians hold no regard for these kinds of terrorists.

But given the Act does not actually specify which terrorists it is targeting, and in fact, a separate provision deals with people who actually go overseas and fight, who else might be at risk of voluntarily renouncing their Australian Citizenship?

In 2014, a bunch of Queenslanders opposed to mining and the environmental impacts on the Great Barrier Reef, were labelled by several Abbott loving media personalities as ‘eco-terrorists’.

According to the Bill, and it is quite clear, a person simply has to engage in one of the activities listed in section 33AA and they have renounced their citizenship.

Of course, it seems absurd to think that mothers, fathers, grandparents, local business people and students defending the reef could possibly be considered as ‘terrorists’ for the purpose of the Allegiance to Australia Bill. But how would they know?

Could a person inadvertently renounce their citizenship by protesting against a new mine?

Could a person renounce their citizenship by donating to a fund to save the reef?

What about regular financial contributions to environmental groups or animal activist organisations?

This does sound far-fetched. It really does. It is inconceivable that a dual citizen would lose their Australian citizenship for sending a donation to the Sea Shepherd.

However the media reported in 2012 that ASIO had been spying on conservation groups. Protesters in mining areas were labelled as terrorists and treated as such by security agencies. The confirmation that ASIO had been monitoring and advising on the activities of conservation groups caused a minor stir at the time. But the implications if the Allegiance to Australia Bill is passed are potentially enormous. Particularly if the Bill applies retrospectively, something Abbott is keen for.

Will green activists, protestors and conservationists who happen to hold dual nationality be deported?

Unlikely.

But would a dual citizen take that risk?

The renunciation happens as a direct consequence of the act. No trial. No proof of the activity. And once the Minister becomes aware the person has done the thing, he may commence the process of detaining and deportation. A person would not know if they were covered by the new provisions and had lost their citizenship until the time the Minister decided to act on it.

Naturally, there is a get-out clause for the friends of the Government accidentally swept up in the catch-all provisions. The Minister can revoke the renunciation at his discretion.

That may provide protection for the white, middle-class Australian who didn’t realise donating to a local conservation group had suddenly become a terrorist act, but not so much for the person of middle-eastern appearance with a name the Minister can’t pronounce.

The laws are a genius form of control. One third of Australians are estimated to be dual citizens. That’s a lot of people who might start questioning their activities.

That’s a lot of people who may be banished from the kingdom.

 


17 comments

  1. dragonnanny

    I have a question and not sure who can address my query but will ask here anyway. With regards to the new laws focusing on dual citizens, can someone inform me about Permanent Residents who might also engage in activities the current govt doesn’t like? Do these laws apply to these people as well? It just strikes me as strange for the focus to be on stripping citizenship when many offenders may not be citizens to begin with. Thank you for reading and I hope someone can clarify this for me.

  2. Eva

    The Government can already cancel a visa (permanent residency) for a person who they believe is not of ‘good character’. See the Alex Vella, Rebels bikie visa cancellation case and also the current attempted deportation of AJ Graham, a bikie from Tasmania. When it comes to ‘good character’ the Minister may take into account a number of factors, so where a person is not a citizen and engages in any terrorist type activities, it is most likely that their visa will simply be cancelled as with these bikie cases.

  3. Colin

    The more we experience this feral government the more I look forward to being banished from the kingdom

  4. donwreford

    Is terrorism becoming law retrospective? if so how far back? and is Cook a fugitive?

  5. rabiddingo

    Good, thought-provoking article. Thank you.

    It is certainly no accident that so much of the new anti-terrorism legislation is so vague, so all-inclusive, and so nebulously drafted. The reference to ” eco-terrorism” is a case in point. Who decides what “terrorism” is? Who decides whether or not a person fighting overseas (Israel? Serbia? Sri Lanka? Kurdestan? Chechnya?) is fighting against Australia?

    As far as I know, Australia has not declared war on ISIS. So, how are these deluded young men fighting for ISIS officially fighting against Australia? Because Abbott who sees himself as an unfettered President of the nation, sent troops, without reference to Parliament, or Cabinet, or the people, to train Iraqis (yet AGAIN)?

    Jesus wept.

    And isn’t retrospective legislation a doozy of a weapon in the hands of the totally unscrupulous?

    And who decides if a group of people attempting to stop fracking by locking their gates are acting against the best interests of the nation? Or people who protest against the rape of Tasmanian forests by blocking logging trails? Eco-terrorists, all.

    Who decides all this?

    Abbott, Captain Clownshoes. The Village Idiot. The dual national, gold medal liar. The man Keating 20 years ago identified as the most dangerous politician in Australia.

    Or his attack dogs – the Bishop harridans. Kormann. Smoking Joe. Brandis. Dutton. Scotty “Beam me up” Morrison. Or other Abbott droogs.

    Other demented Bible-bashers and crazed capitalists, other servants of the Murdochs and Forrests and Reinharts; the faceless bastards of the Adanis and BHPs and Rio Tintos who are the real, unassailable, sacrosanct rulers of this nation – served by and supported to the hilt by the same bunch of well-paid, but rabid attack dogs who have been vilifying Triggs, Hanson-Young and any one else who dares to cross the Mad Monk.

    Something very sad is happening to our nation. That a man of the total irredeemable amorality of Tony Abbott – not even responsible to the God he constantly invokes, the sort of man my old Dad would have described as “somebody you wouldn’t piss on if he was on fire”, is being allowed to unravel everything fine about our nation sickens me, and saddens me beyond words.

  6. AndrewL

    When listening to this bill sailing through the senate, I couldn’t believe how stupid the independent senators took Brandis at his word that “they don’t need to worry about the rush to get the bill through without scrutiny” and take his word for it that it will not be misused. I guess it would not have made any difference anyway because the had the Liberal Lights to back them.
    Really it seems that the Greens are now the only political party in Australia that stand up for Australian citizens rights these days. Very sad days indeed. Thanks Eva for your article.

  7. Daniela

    This is a type of gag order as well, that means that whatever the government deems, something said in a a comment on facebook for example, is a crime, then goodbye citizenship. That would shut down any freedom of speech altogether!

  8. iggy648

    Who’s job will it be to stand up at citizenship ceremonies and tell the new citizens that their citizenship is, well, not really quite as good as “real” citizens’ citizenship?

  9. Nick Brownell

    Isn’t your Prime Minister allegedly still a dual national citizen? Is it not illegal to be Prime Minister without renouncing his state of origin? So wouldn’t it be good if we could denounce his citizenship (ideally without trial or anything trivial like that) and send him far, far away????

  10. Matters Not

    rabiddingo is pretty close to the mark.

    Congratulations!

  11. Harquebus

    Rupert Murdoch threw away his Australian citizenship. That’s how much he values it and yet, politicians from both major parties will fight each other over who gets to brown nose the bastard.

  12. mars08

    Do the self-absorbed clowns who want these laws (Labor included) ever stop to think what will happen if the wrong type of person gets their hands on the reins? Oh sure we can definitely trust the current batch of politicians… but…

  13. Bilal

    Several of my ancestors were banished to Australia for petty crime. They did quite well as a result. The First Nation peoples did not do so well. The people now going to be banished might have relatives in their destination but what about those who are not accepted by any foreign country? Does that mean Christmas Island and the new big prison they are building or will Norfolk island revert to its old role now it has been put under direct Australian control? Seems a bit much for damaging Commonwealth property, but then my great great great granny only stole a ribbon and she was banished forever.

  14. doctorrob54

    You got me Harquebus.To many of those in high places,with power to wheel influence care nothing for the well being,let alone positive outcomes for Australia,let alone locals.

  15. Lee

    Some of the first generation Australians who support stopping the boats might find their own citizenship stripped away. That would be tragic.

  16. Gangey1959

    Given that abbott has not proven in court that he has renounced his british citizenship, and is therefore of dual nationality in the eyes of a vast number of Australians, can we not have him stripped of his Australian citizenship and sent home to england under
    Amendment 33AA, Subsection 2, Lines 6 Financing terrorism; ;and 7 Financing a terrorist, because a department of his government paid people smugglers, therefore committing an illegal act on the High Seas ?
    I sure as shit hope so.

  17. RichardU

    And to think, the Snowy Mountains Scheme relied considerably on using former German soldiers and radicalised Nazis. They were importing them then.

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