Melbourne: The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) has expressed deep concern about the proposal by Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison, to suspend Australian citizenship, as part of Federal Government counter-terrorism measures.
ECCV Chairperson, Eddie Micallef, said while the proposal, on face value, appeared to be a reasonable initiative, when looked at more closely and in detail, it is “fraught with potential problems”, and may not lead to the “intended or desired outcomes” for Victorians from culturally diverse backgrounds.
“Let me say from the outset that the ECCV, it members and stakeholders, strongly abhor terrorism in all its forms, and we fully understands why the Federal Government is examining a variety of ways in which to counter this type of violent and extremist behaviour,” Micallef said.
“However, the recent proposal by the Federal Government to strip citizenship from dual citizens has been highly controversial, and the further proposal to take away citizenship from sole citizens – where, in theory, they can apply for citizenship within another country – is seen as even more problematic.”
Micallef said the ECCV had made recent public statements to the media about the problems that might come about if the government strips dual citizens of their citizenship, and had also responded to calls to take away citizenship form sole citizens as having potentially negative and unintended consequences.
“One of the great things about the country we live in is that it is a democracy which is governed by the rule of law. If people break laws, then they should be subjected to the court and legal systems, where their innocence or otherwise can be proven based on evidence and facts.
“It is of real concern that these new proposed measures are putting the discretion to revoke a person’s Australian citizenship in the hands of the Minister, where there is ‘suspicion’ that somebody has done something wrong, but not the rigour of the court system, which gives an individual the right to defend themselves.”
Micallef said that while he understood Minister Scott’s reasoning behind putting the suggestion to suspend citizenship forward, it still had the potential to punish people who were innocent.
“Separately to this, it has been reported through Cabinet leaks that six Ministers have expressed real reservations about the proposals that striping citizenship from dual nationals could impact negatively on our foreign policy, and be seen as exporting our problems to other countries.”