Proposed Changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007

It is great to stand up here and contribute to this debate, because this debate will clearly show what is different between us and them. The Labor Party think that we are just like them. They think that we are all us and we are just like them. Well, we are not like you, Senator Polley.

We actually are making decisions consistent with good government. Unlike the government that you administered for six years, we have made decisions consistently with things going through cabinet, going through national security committees and going through the party room as well, and a clear decision has been made by the cabinet to remove citizenship from those dual-citizenship Australians who fight in terrorist armies overseas, at times against Australian troops. We have made a clear decision through the entire coalition decision-making process that those people should have their citizenship stripped in that case. That is our decision; that is what we have done, and we have put it through the process. But that is not the position of the Labor Party. Some time in the last 24 hours—I am not exactly sure when Mr Dreyfus appeared on Sky News—

Senator Brandis:  "This morning."

Thank you, Senator Brandis. Mr Dreyfus, the shadow Attorney-General, was on news this morning and was asked directly about this question: whether dual citizens should have their citizenship stripped in the case of them fighting in terrorist armies. He was putting the case that we need to give them some kind of judicial review on this decision and let the courts decide whether they should have their citizenship stripped. There is a practical issue here, of course: how are you going to have that court review when we are trying to keep these people out? Mr Dreyfus's response was very clear: 'You get them back here.' That is what he said—a direct quote. He was asked: how are we going to provide a court review process for people who are suspected of being, and probably have been, involved in fighting for terrorist armies overseas? The policy now, apparently, of the Labor Party is that you get them back here. This is how we are different from them. We believe that we do not want to get people who have been fighting in terrorist armies back here. We want to keep them out of here. The Labor Party want to bring them back into our country—people who have potentially been fighting against Australians; people who have signed up with loyalty to another cause that is inconsistent with the requirements of being an Australian and supporting Australia. They want to get them back here in this country to potentially spread their message of hate and intolerance through our country as well. We reject that. That is not our policy. That is not what the coalition stands for. We will fight every day and week to ensure that these people do not come back into our country and we are able to keep our people safe from the harm that they would seek to do to us.

The other way we are different from the Labor Party is that we have gone through the proper process. There is an absolute litany of examples from the previous Labor government of how they corrupted a cabinet decision-making process, how they ignored collective decision making and how often decisions were rammed through by one or two or four individuals. We have seen many examples of that this week on our TVs, but there was a book written late last year by Paul Kelly which extensively catalogued these examples. Just one quote from that book is:

The same story often occurred at cabinet meetings, or the 'gang of four'— that is, the Strategic Budget and Priorities Committee, which thankfully no longer exists— Gillard recalls: 'I saw him— that is, Kevin Rudd— treat the whole National Security Committee badly. He'd keep them waiting endless hours. He'd come in late, grumpy, carrying around his bloody cushion, looking miserable, treating them like school children.'

That does not happen under a coalition government. We still have a national security committee, but it meets regularly, it makes decision in an orderly way and it is not treated with the kind of disrespect that was shown by the former Labor government. You need to have that process if you want to keep Australians safe. You have to have these things in place if you want to make sensible decisions after due consideration of the issues to keep Australians safe. This debate is about that. That is exactly what this debate is about. It is one of our fundamental priorities: here is a parliament and the job of those in government—almost their No. 1 job—is to try their best to keep Australians safe. We will never necessarily succeed every time, but we must do all we can to keep them safe. The coalition and this government is committed to doing that and making the appropriate changes in the law to have that done. With the Labor Party, there is a huge question mark right now.

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