We can all agree that supporting terrorism is abhorrent. But so is child abuse and domestic violence.
The Federal Government has introduced a bill into Parliament that will strip the citizenship of dual nationals who fight alongside terrorist groups. In case you missed it, the bill means some people can be stripped automatically of their citizenship, even without a conviction, once they fight with a terrorist group like Islamic State in the Middle East.
Now, this is not a post defending terrorists or their supporters. Islamic State — with its bloodthirsty goal of strictly enforcing Sharia law while carrying out widespread ethnic cleansing and sickening sexual crimes — offends my values on every single level. The acts of terror that took place in three continents at the weekend were nothing short of abhorrent.
But here’s something I’m not on board with: The fact that parts of this new laws’ wording is so very broad that the bill could theoretically permit someone guilty of a relatively minor crime to be outcast from the country. For example, “citizenship might be stripped from a 15-year-old who graffitis a Commonwealth building, or a person who damages federal property in the midst of a protest,” as legal expert George Williams writes for Fairfax.
(Also concerning is the fact that the laws may be applied retrospectively, and that some of the changes stipulate that “the rules of natural justice do not apply” — but that’s a legal rant for another post.)
Here’s another thing I’m certainly not on board with: The way these laws are being marketed to Australians using nationalistic, hyperbolic rhetoric.
The Federal government likes to position terrorism as the gravest danger facing Australians today.
“We face a heightened and complex security environment — regrettably some of the most pressing threats to the security of the nation and the safety of the nation come to citizens engaged in terrorism,” Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said recently. “The intention of the changes is the protection of the community and the upholding of its values”.
Tony Abbott similarly likes to use jingoistic references to ‘Australian values,’ and has used the phrase “un-Australian” to describe the promotion of ideologies that seek to justify terrorism. (The language he uses to combat violence against women and children is, by contrast, sometimes non-existent; in a recent speech about his main priorities and achievements, for example, he didn’t mention women once.)