Senate debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Business

Consideration of Legislation

10:32 am

Photo of Kristina KeneallyKristina Keneally (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

I seek leave to move a motion relating to the consideration of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Cessation) Bill 2020

Leave not granted.

Pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of Senator Wong, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely, a motion to give precedence to a motion relating to the consideration of the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Cessation) Bill 2020.

The government have indicated to the opposition that they want to see the citizenship cessation bill passed through the parliament before we leave this chamber this week. This is a bill that deals with terrorist conduct. This bill is an important national security bill. It is an important piece of national security legislation dealing with terrorist conduct and the removal of citizenship from dual citizens who engage in terrorist conduct. This is an important tool in our national security apparatus to ensure that our national security agencies have the capacity and the ability to remove dual citizenship from those dual citizens who engage in terrorist conduct.

This is a reform that is long overdue. The Independent National Security Legislation Monitor has recommended, in unequivocal terms, that the current model of citizenship loss be immediately repealed and revoked—that the automatic loss of citizenship for dual citizens who engage in terrorist conduct does not serve our national security interests. That is the recommendation of the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor. It is also the advice of ASIO. ASIO has advised the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security that the current law does not always serve the national interest, that the current law does not always provide the best outcome from a national security perspective.

The government introduced this legislation in the House of Representatives some eight months ago. It went to an inquiry of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The PJCIS delivered its report on Tuesday, because the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, had indicated to the opposition that the government would pass this legislation through the parliament this week—through all stages in both chambers. The government said it was incredibly important that we get this legislative reform done.

The opposition, the Australian Labor Party, supports this bill. We support this change. We have, at every juncture, provided support to the government to facilitate the passage of this legislation. In the House of Representatives, we indicated that we would be willing to interrupt legislation to bring this legislation on. The government did not take us up on that offer. However, yesterday, the bill did pass through the House of Representatives. We now only have hours to go before we leave Canberra for weeks. We will not be back here until October. This legislative reform, which deals with terrorist conduct by dual citizens, improves the process by which citizenship is taken away from Australian citizens who are dual citizens or who have a right to citizenship in another country. The process by which they lose their citizenship is improved in a way that ASIO wants, that the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor requested, which said it needed to be repealed, revoked and replaced with a decision-making model.

This is an important piece of national security legislation. It is an important tool for our national security agencies in safeguarding the Australian community from those who would seek to do us harm. By moving this suspension of standing orders, I send in the clearest possible terms a message to the Australian community and to members in this Senate that the Australian Labor Party stands ready to facilitate this legislation and ensure its passage through this chamber today so that when we leave this parliament—

Honourable senators interjecting—

I note that there's laughter on the other side. Such is the disdain, apparently, some may have for our national security agencies and their legislation. What is serious about this bill is that ASIO has said it is important we get this done, so we are moving this suspension of standing orders to ensure that we have time in this chamber to debate and pass this important legislation.

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