Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott is facing opposition from within his own ranks over a proposal that the Immigration Minister be given the power to strip an Australian of his or her sole citizenship.
The divisions within Cabinet emerged on Tuesday, shortly after Abbott confirmed that dual citizens would be stripped of their citizenship if found fighting for terrorist groups.
“These days, fighting against our country can often involve fighting with terrorist groups that are pledged to do us harm,” Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Tuesday.
The legislation would be drafted in the coming weeks, he said.
However, the provision to remove the citizenship of Australians who hold no other passport became a topic of intense government debate.
Monday evening’s Cabinet meeting on the topic saw six members of Abbott’s cabinet rise up against the proposal, Fairfax Media reported Tuesday.
The idea was announced by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton with the support of the prime minister and divided the room.
Fairfax reported Foreign Affairs Minister and deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop, Attorney-General George Brandis, Defence Minister Kevin Andrews, Agriculture Minister and deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull as the six who spoke against the proposal.
The same plan has divided the cabinet’s seven-person National Security Commitee of which Abbott, Dutton, Bishop, Andrews, Brandis, Treasurer Joe Hockey and Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss are members.
The core objection was that an Australian stripped of his or her sole citizenship would be rendered stateless, a violation of international law.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Abbott said he wanted to have a “national conversation” about the responsibilities and rights of citizenship.
Brandis sought to assure the nation no-one would be rendered stateless.
“We are not going to be rendering anyone stateless, nobody has proposed that, everything we do will be compliant with the rule of law,” he said on Tuesday.
“But we are going to be tough.” Enditem