Prime Minister Tony Abbott accused Labor of ‘rolling out the red carpet for terrorists’.Prime Minister Tony Abbott has warned of the “perils” of letting Australia’s courts put people suspected of fighting with terrorists on trial.
In the latest sign he has little faith in the judicial system’s ability to deal with radical Islamists who return from the Middle East, Mr Abbott says the government cannot allow them back on Australian soil because they could end up “loose on our streets”.
“I want to make it absolutely crystal clear where this government stands. If you go to Syria or Iraq to fight with a terrorist army, you are committing the modern form of treason,” he told the NSW Liberal Party faithful in Sydney on Saturday.
“And I say: if you go to Syria or Iraq to fight with a terrorist army, we don’t want you back. We don’t want you back. And if you are a dual citizen, we won’t let you back because you will lose your Australian citizenship.”
Mr Abbott accused Labor of having three different positions on foreign fighters.
“They say they’ll put you on trial. Well, fair enough. But we all know the perils of that. And I know what the Australian people are thinking. They do not want terrorists loose on our streets.”
Opposition Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says he wants terrorists convicted and locked up.
“It’s extraordinary to hear a Prime Minister in effect trashing the rule of law and trashing the right to trial, the right to have a judge and jury determine guilt,” he told Fairfax Media.
“It’s actually incomprehensible.”
Mr Dreyfus is calling on the government to publicly release the legal advice it’s been given on its controversial plans to strip terrorism suspects of their citizenship.
The government is expected to introduce its latest round of national security legislation – aimed at giving the government extra power to cancel the citizenships of dual nationals – into Parliament later this week.
But it’s still unclear just what form the draft laws will take amid speculation the government has been forced to water down its original proposals.
Mr Abbott wanted to give the Immigration Minister discretionary power to strip a suspect’s citizenship without a conviction or the possibility of appeal. But experts say that would be unconstitutional and vulnerable to a High Court challenge, and there have been reports the government has been given Solicitor-General advice to that effect.
“(Immigration Minister) Peter Dutton said he would release the advice back on the fourth of June, and he should,” Mr Dreyfus told Fairfax Media.
“The advice should be released to build public confidence – or rebuild public confidence – in the constitutionality of whatever is put forward by the government.”
Mr Dreyfus said the public particularly needed to be confident that the legislation would not be knocked out by the High Court.
He says there is precedent to publicly release legal advice. Labor twice released Solicitor-General advice when it was in power: once on the minority parliament and once on the High Court challenge to the Malaysian people swap deal.
Citizenship proposals have dramatically divided the cabinet in recent weeks. A further plan to strip the citizenship of sole citizens appears to have been shelved after encountering stiff opposition from some frontbenchers.
Mr Abbott says he is confident his legislation will stand up to any constitutional test.
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