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Dual citizen? Beware the Border Force street patrol

In many cases, buying into a conspiracy theory may result in an instant loss of credibility. However as reality becomes increasingly more absurd and Government policy more outrageous, what may once have seemed ludicrous now verges on genuine possibility. Friday the 28 August 2015 will go down in history as the day the citizens of Melbourne stood up against a police state and fascism. It will also be remembered as one of the most appallingly planned and ridiculously thought-out operations by a Government agency ever. And it demonstrates just why the instant revocation of citizenship in the proposed Allegiance to Australia Act is so incredibly dangerous.

Just weeks ago, the notion of Abbott’s paramilitary Border Force, prowling the streets of Australian cities and towns, searching for ‘visa fraudsters’ would have been laughed off as lunacy. The very thought of immigration and customs officials leaving their posts on the actual border of the nation and mingling among Saturday shoppers in the CBD of Melbourne would have been written off as an April Fool’s Day joke.

But no. Friday’s events showed that national security is no laughing matter for Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the now-missing-in-action Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton. The suggestion of potential identity checks of thousands of Australians meandering through the CBD was not so much of a suggestion, as part of an actual, real, planned inter-agency ‘safety’ operation with Victoria Police.

Astoundingly, the Australian Border Force issued a statement inferring that officers would be checking the visa status of people who crossed their paths on an ordinary weekend in Melbourne. There was no high profile event to warrant the operation, no actual security risk or suspected imminent incident of a terrorist nature. No. It was part of a crackdown on antisocial behaviour and outstanding warrants and to promote a ‘secure and cohesive’ community.

While Friday’s events were analysed, examined and ridiculed endlessly from every angle in the hours following the debacle, the whole concept of on-the-street visa checks ties in quite cleanly with another of Abbott’s new national security policies.

Earlier this year Abbott introduced the Allegiance to Australia Bill, which sets up a number of circumstances under which dual citizens may lose their Australian citizenship. While in some cases an actual conviction for an offence is required, there are many other cases where a person automatically renounces their citizenship by action.

Section 33AA of the Bill provides that where a person ‘acts inconsistently with their allegiance to Australia’ the renunciation has immediate effect from the moment the person does that action. Naturally, once the Minister becomes aware of the act and renunciation of citizenship, the person may be detained and deported.

The actions considered to be inconsistent with Australian allegiance include such things as engaging in terrorist activities; providing or receiving training connected with preparation for, engagement in, or assistance in a terrorist act; and financing terrorism or a terrorist. According to the University of Sydney’s Dr Rayner Thwaites and Dr Anne Twomey, a highly respected legal expert, the broadly worded provisions potentially apply to many innocent dual citizens. It means a law-abiding science or chemistry teacher, gym instructor or a member of a shooting club could inadvertently revoke their Australian citizenship if the skills they imparted or shared later helped a person commit a terrorist act.

As if this isn’t concerning enough, organisations such as Greenpeace and the Sea Shepherd have been labelled as terrorist organisations, as have other environmental groups. People protesting against mining are considered such a threat, ASIO has reportedly spied on them.

Of course, the Allegiance to Australia Bill has not yet become law, but section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 already allows the Minister to cancel the visa of any Australian resident who is not a citizen on a range of ‘character’ grounds. The ‘test’ does not require any actual criminal convictions or any proof of criminality; not that the Minister has to provide the evidence used for a decision anyway if he can cite ‘national security’. The Minister basically decides a person is not of the calibre expected of an Australian resident and abolishes their right to live in the country – no matter how many decades they may have called Australia home.

With 28% of Australians born overseas, and an estimated third of Australians thought to be dual citizens, there are potentially millions of Australians at risk of detainment and deportation. Approximately 600 visas have already reportedly been cancelled by the Minister on ‘character grounds’ in the past year alone.

Which raises the question – just which ‘visa fraudsters’ was Mr Don Smith and his Border Force officers intending to intercept?

Many commentators have pointed out the absurdity of notifying visa over-stayers of an operation cracking down on illegal immigrants. Clearly those without lawful authority to be in Australia would have stayed clear of the Melbourne CBD.

But now, consider the operation was jointly between Victoria Police and other agencies, including the Border Force. According to Victorian Police Minister, Wade Noonan MP, it was a standard police operation focusing on antisocial behaviour and to ensure the safety of the community. He accuses Border Force of ‘unfortunate and inappropriate characterisation’ of the joint venture.

This may be so, but it does raise serious questions about how such an operation, if it had continued, would have been carried out. How many people, lawfully in Australia, holding permanent resident visas, would have been potentially caught up in the fishing exercise? How many would find themselves suddenly detained on the murky grounds of failing to meet the ‘good character’ requirements of the Migration Act? There need be no criminal offence committed, conviction or even evidence provided. What constitutes ‘antisocial behaviour’, and would suspicion of such warrant the immediate detainment and deportation of a New Zealand national, for example?

And if Abbott has his way and the Allegiance to Australia Bill becomes law, how exactly does Dutton intend to ‘discover’ those automatically renouncing their citizenship? Will the sight of Border Force agents patrolling shopping centres and malls be a regular and common occurrence? Will the Border Force be sent out to catch dual citizen commuters automatically revoking their citizenship by dropping a gold coin donation in a Wilderness Society tin? Will Border Force agents be pouncing on dual citizens buying chemistry sets from the National Geographic shop?

The ramifications of Friday’s aborted operation are huge. Despite Victoria Police seeing sense and cancelling the ridiculous event, the fact it was planned in the first place is cause for alarm.

The concerns about Border Force and Operation Fortitude has gone beyond racial profiling. Are we in the midst of a national cleansing program?



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  1. Southerly

    Friday’s Melbourne border force farce shows that the Allegiance to Australia Bill must not be passed.
    This government can’t be trusted. Our freedoms are being peeled away, right after right, and people will/ can be deported on a whim of a minister. Dutton has gone missing in action, after refusing to comment on the farce yesterday. It hardly gives one confidence on his ability to handle the power given by the bill.
    I used to wonder how the Germans allowed Hitler to get the power he had. You only need to notice the Abbott government in action to see how it’s done.

  2. corvus boreus

    Since the jurisdictions of the black-clad paramilitary “Border Force” seem to stray so far inwardly from our coastline, I would like to know how far beyond our territorial waters their operational parameters extend.
    Their own ABF website identified them as operating “across the border continuum”, which would limit them to working within infinity.

  3. Terry2

    I don’t even have a Visa but i do have a Mastercard, would that suffice ?

  4. Terry Goulden

    Having just googled to check on situations under which police can request proof of identity I found a considerable number of activities and places give our police this right. However all of them are based on a reasonable suspicion of the person having or being about to commit an indictable offense or refusing to carry out a reasonable instruction. We have not yet reached the stage where simply walking through a mall or down the street entitles any authority to stop someone and demand identification. Therefore it is clear that any Border Force official who did this would leave themselves open to legal proceedings. The presence of a state police officer would not give them any more legal powers to act. With so many lawyers in both the government and the public service I think it is an indictment of current legal training that no one even thought of that. Another thought that if the protesters had not been so quick we may have ended up with a nice legal challenge to clarify the law once and for all. When will this government stop emarrassing the country

  5. eli nes

    whew I am glad to be a lapsed catholic so i no longer have any allegiance to el papa, the head of a foreign nation. However my mum being born in scotland, makes me and my children eligible for a british passport. oops my darling’s mum was born in england so we are all in line for deportation.
    Perhaps the warped minds of scott morrison and the rabbutt would re-activate the vagrancy laws, They could arrest and detain thousands in melbourne alone????

  6. corvus boreus

    eli nes,
    “I am glad to be a lapsed catholic”.
    You share that trait with Richard Di Natale.

  7. Matters Not

    I don’t have a Visa for Australia as well. If I go to Russia I have to apply for a Visa some time beforehand, send off my Passport and they will attach that Visa directly to that Passport. It’s a very bureaucratic process and necessitates an ‘invitation’ from a Russian citizen. Vietnam is a pain as well.

    If I go to Thailand, contrary to what most people believe, including many who actually visit, I don’t get a Visa. I get my Passport date stamped which allows me thirty days in that country without a Visa. Overstay and the fine is 500 Baht a day (about $20).

    If I go to Turkey, I buy a Visa at the Airport.

    Now I am a little unsure of what happens when one wants to visit Australia from most countries in Europe. From my reading, citizens of most countries must apply before leaving home to get an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA). Your Passport is not stamped apparently but it’s this ETA that makes you legit or otherwise.

    Does anyone know the details of how it actually works in Australia? (I know there will be variations depending on citizenship, but the general arrangements would be appreciated.)

  8. Nasser

    I wonder how many people have dual citizenship and don’t even know it!

  9. marcy cannon

    ummm there is a labor premier in victoria, to whom i support, so whats his stance on this , did he rubber stamp the farce, i need to know

  10. AndrewL

    Tony Abbott has duel citizenship so he can potentially become a victim of his own law. And goodness knows how many lives he is already responsible for killing when you think of all the migrant boat turnbacks where the result could have been sinking in international waters not to mention the atrocities still happening in the Australian run concentration camps on Nauru and elsewhere.

  11. Aortic

    The real danger here, is that one of these confected outrages, designed to keep this klutz in power by saving us from “terrorists” , will actually cause physical harm to those in the vicinity due to the machinations of this gormless idiot.

  12. Kaye Lee


    The Victorian Police Minister issued a statement saying

    “The State Government was notified this month that Victoria Police would lead a joint-agency operation this weekend in the CBD aimed at keeping Victorians safe.

    We were advised it would target anti-social behaviour and commuters to ensure people got home safely. The community’s safety and wellbeing is always the government’s priority.

    Operation Fortitude was intended to be a standard police operation.

    We fully support the decision by Victoria Police to cancel the operation after the unfortunate and inappropriate characterisation by the Australian Border Force today.”

  13. Neil of Sydney

    And goodness knows how many lives he is already responsible for killing when you think of all the migrant boat turnbacks where the result could have been sinking in international waters

    And what about the people who drowned after being encouraged to make the boat journey by ALP/Greens. Labor restarted the people smuggling trade by abolishing the Pacific Solution. There are 1,200 people who drowned that we know of and most probably 4 times that which we don’t know about.

    It is not a good idea to encourage people to come here by boat.

  14. corvus boreus

    Kaye Lee,
    Apart from a visceral silent scream of obscenity (_____![!!!]) , I can only offer one rational response in the form of a question;

    Did/can the Victorian Police minister specify exactly who (which precise person through what agency) notified the Victorian Government that “Operation Fortitude” was to occur?

  15. Michael Taylor

    And what about the people who drowned after being encouraged to make the boat journey by ALP/Greens.

    You disgust me. You really do. These people were fleeing persecution. They were trying to get to Australia where they could get a better life and live as free people. But all you’re interested in is the politics of it. They drowned. They’re dead. Show some respect.

    If I was fleeing persecution I might even try the same thing.

    You have no idea what it’s like to live in a war-torn country, do you? Fortunately, neither do I. But I do know that the village my family fled from has now been flattened and all the people murdered.

    My family came here by boat and Australia welcomed them.

  16. eli nes

    thanks smartest of all birds, my apologies to the greens leader for jumping to conclusions.

  17. RosemaryJ36

    Andrew L: “Tony Abbott has dual citizenship so he can potentially become a victim of his own law.”
    This is debatable.
    He was British until he wanted Australian citizenship in order to be eligible for a Rhodes Scholarship.
    No one has yet produced proof that he actually renounced his British citizenship before being elected to Parliament and there is a rumour to the effect that he did, but is keeping quiet about it to trap someone into the legally costly exercise of challenging his right to sit in the House.
    If he were a moral person, no question would arise about his legitimacy and we are lumbered with an amoral and idiotic PM who has no idea how to lead a country and who is a laughing stock in the developed world.
    And I never in all my days to date would have thought I could make a public comment like that about someone elected to serve this country in its highest office.

  18. Nasser

    Were asylum seekers arriving by boat an issue before John Howard was a PM?
    I looked at the stats and the most arrival by boat was 6555 people in one year. Seriously, that is nothing, how many immigrants we let in Australia every year!!

  19. corvus boreus

    Michael Taylor,
    May I, as a hypocritical (non-financial) contributor, make a suggestion? (I will anyway)
    Neil of Sydney could be offered (and preferably restricted to) the option of contributing a weekly column to state his viewpoints, with the right of response on that thread alone. He could have his own personal soapbox for the ‘black belt in babble’ braying of the sins of Labors past, and the mountebank peddling of rose-tinted Howard nostalgia.
    This would give him a forum for both his occasional dissemination of factual and valid information (and a platform for the more frequent fallacious claims) and a theatre for soliloquious repetition of opinion (a valuable service your site provides), and satisfy his obsessional need for validation through antagonistic internet expression (and let him fulfill any possible employment obligations).
    It would spare the rest of us the irritation of tedious repetitions of his blinkered opinions upon a selective and narrow slice of the past disrupting constructive discussions about current events..

    It could be called ‘The Jester’s Court’.

  20. bobrafto

    It appears to me that Abbott has created a huge new bureaucracy of blackshirts that are sitting back twiddling their thumbs in the absence of terrorists and they are trying obviously too hard in trying to justify their existence with a crackdown on visa violators on the pretence that we will all feel fuzzy and safe.

  21. Stoo1970

    Say Abbott gets his way and dual citizens can be deported for…well…doing “bad things”?

    What happens to their assets and property?

    Will they be seized by the govt, sold off, and the proceeds added to the coffers?

    Is this how they intend to reduce the deficit?

  22. mars08

    What astounds and infuriated me? The fools who still mumble the tired, feeble line… “If you’re doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear” Idiots!

  23. corvus boreus

    eli nes,
    Thank you for for acknowledging. Senator Di Natale has also proposed the idea of abolishing parliamentary prayer.

    Ps, to digress regarding your comment regarding relative bird smarts, here is a problem solving/dexterity playoff between a New Caledonian Crow (Corvus moneduloides), allegedly the smartest amongst corvids (admittedly showing visible signs of captivity stress), versus a NZ Kea Parrot (Nestor notabilis).

  24. Wun Farlung

    Neil of Sydney
    It’s not a good idea to invade other countries and make people become refugees.
    Recently Australian LNP Governments blindly tagged along with the US into questionable conflicts.
    I find contemptible that the most rabid supporters of the LNP are the same people opposed to refugees coming here by boat or any other means.
    By the way I for one am not fooled by the stopping drownings at sea bullshit. You can try to justify it however you like. I know you don’t want refugees here full stop. You come running ,tail wagging ,tounge out every time Abbott blows the whistle

  25. Möbius Ecko

    Michael Taylor @ 6:54pm

    Remember the cartoons and articles showing Abbott encouraging the boat people. This has been pointed out to Neil at the time but he still puts it all on Labor.

    Of course here we have another utter cockup by the Liberals and Neil shows up to bash Labor.

  26. Michael Taylor

    Mo, you’d have better luck trying to explain it to an earthworm.

  27. musicinhills

    if the same operation had been held in Brisbane they would have gotten away with it

  28. Matters Not

    I know that this has been said before, but perhaps it’s worth repeating for the Nth time.

    Don’t respond to trolls.

    Given the current state of ‘play’, Neil is long way ahead and indeed continues to win on a daily basis.

    By ‘responding’ you give him the legitimacy he craves.

    But I am supremely confident he will continue to ‘distract’. It’s why Abbott will win the next election.

    So many easily sucked in.

  29. Michael Taylor

    Neil of Sydney could be offered (and preferably restricted to) the option of contributing a weekly column to state his viewpoints, with the right of response on that thread alone.

    CB, it will be the same posts over and over again, week after week. It will contain the following without doubt:

    Interest rates were higher under Keating. There were six children in detention in 2007. Tony Abbott has sex appeal. Swan wrecked the country. You leftoids caused those people to drown because you voted Labor.

  30. Michael Taylor

    They’ll have trouble getting away with it anywhere now.

  31. Nasser

    They were not meant to get away with it. I believe it was a distraction, a test.
    Abbott now said “I want to make it absolutely crystal clear, as far as this Government is concerned, people will never be stopped in the street randomly and asked for their visa details,”
    So, he’s trying to make himself look like the good guy and the gov is more concerned for the people.

  32. Nasser

    Till yesterday, I believed the Libs were all idiots.
    Today, I believe they are using Sun Tzu tactics to a T.

  33. bobrafto

    I was just thinking which is not a good sign but anyway my thoughts are that everyone knows that Abbott is pulling a swiftie on them with terrorism, anti Muslim, secrecy, operational matters, etc. etc. And everyone is in a state of apprehension of what extremes Abbott will reach next.

    And so yesterday ABF as though channelled by the Gestapo started talking tough to the burghers of Melbourne, ;ve vill stop everyone’ and the outcome was a farce that exploded in Abbott’s and Dutton’s face.

    To me the protest that led to the humiliating back down of the ABF is a sign that folks have drawn a line to Abbott’s extremism and are now willing to take to the street and protest.

    One thing about Abbott is he never stops giving bull shit which is drowning more than half the voters and Neil just wallows in it.

  34. Michael Taylor

    Yet Abbott is doing a Sgt Schultz.

  35. bobrafto

    He took his cue from Howard with children overboard.

  36. Annie B

    @ Eva Cripps …. a truly great article you have written here … so well constructed, and easily read and understood.

    Thank you.


    Seems to me, that this ‘Australian Border Force’ begat from the “Allegiance to Australia” Bill ( yet to be passed ) is yet another attempt to say ” How High ?” to America’s demand of “Jump”. In other words, they do it, this Government follows … i.e. :

    The “Patriots’ Act” brought in during GWB’s reign of terror, had similar properties initially, but is a very very complex document now, considering the way too numerous amendments that have been made to it, since.

    Still and all, it does exist. The bottom line to it is ‘surveillance’ … and is all encompassing. I cannot find, however, that it encourages or enables, authorities to ask / demand, proof of legitimate status of anyone on the streets of any major ( or minor ) city, in a confrontational / questioning situation. It largely focusses, in the U.S.A. on data retention, roving wire-taps, searches of business records, and surveillance of those who might be suspected of terrorist activities, or the planning thereof. … The latter – – fair enough.

    The ABF and their seconded Victorian Police Force ( if in fact the VP were seconded by a Victorian Parliament nod, as alleged ), to ‘speak with any individuals we cross paths with’ … which in itself was a threat, is a newly installed ‘idea’ by the Australian Government, which extends this type of Patriots Act – a la U.S. of A.

    The following link gives an update on the situation – and very succinctly.

    This points up the ‘fear factor’ inherent in not only the so-called ‘exercise’ but in the untimely and mis-understood ( yeah – right ) … statement by the ABF to all and sundry, including the media. …. And we all know how THEY run with a story.

    I rather ( horridly ) think, the Abbott Government saw a win/win situation with this farce. …. a) to promote further fear and reaction ( by announcing their intentions ) and b) because of this, bring out into the open, those who would oppose such measures, thereby exposing them to criticism and analysis also – something the LNP could then get their dirty mouths around to underscore their intent of ‘population ( border ) protection’ – which somehow has come ‘inland’ [ remarkable – that !! ] to be seen on the streets of a major city. ???????? … A sneaky and devilish plan all round. … and the Minister responsible ? … Dutton – who seems to have done a bunk at this point in time !! … Nowhere to be found.

    A thoroughly rotten situation – in every respect.

  37. bobrafto

    I just read your comment, got me thinking, and after not that much deliberation I have concluded whatever playbook Abbott tries to act, his constant bullshit will always come to the fore and therefore the playbook lacks all credibility.

    To add weight to my conclusion, the constant bullshit spread by Abbott and co has been permeating up the nostrils of the voters non stop for 2 years, Nothing will save Abbott..

    Abbott is beyond redemption and that makes him dangerous as his lust for power is greater than the common good.

  38. Florence nee Fedup

    What Dutton would like to see is not only those with dual nationality, but those who are entitled to seek nationality of another country.

    I have real problems with some we have been deporting over the years. Some who have lived here since babies. Many that have not connection or even speak the language of the country they are sent back to. All relatives living in this country.

    As far as I am concerned, if we rear them, we own them.

  39. Pingback: Dual citizen? Beware the Border Force street patrol – Written by EVA CRIPPS | winstonclose

  40. anarcaroja

    The Abbot government has some features of a fascist character, like the government of my country, Spain.

  41. jim

    Live by the lie die by the lie, I think Abbotts already dead anyway.

  42. Felicitas

    Florence nee Fedup, your last comment made me smile – we had a similar saying in the health field – “If you find it, you clean it up” It was related to the bodily excretions of institutionalised people with intellectual or mental deficits. The ‘product’ we were referring to then was SHIT. So we are in a real quandry here – we have uncovered the shit excreted by this government, so when are we going to clean it up?

  43. jimhaz

    [As far as I am concerned, if we rear them, we own them]

    Except for Mel Gibson. And we should all sign a petition to not allow Murdoch to continue to act as if he was an Australian, when he is not any more.

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