HATE preachers and terrorists face being stripped of their Australian citizenship and sent back to their original countries under tough anti-terrorism measures being examined by the Abbott Government.
The proposal would see immigrants who became Australian citizens but then preached hate or carried out terrorist attacks given a one-way ticket back to their birth countries, or a third nation.
The move could for the first time encompass Australian citizens who were not dual nationals, meaning the terrorists and hate preachers would have to be accepted by another country.
That would mean people such as Melbourne hate preacher Harun Mehicevic, who migrated from Bosnia but became an Australian citizen in 1996, are on notice they could be stripped of their citizenship if found to be acting against the interests of Australia.
A Cabinet source said the plan would not affect Australian-born citizens who do not have or have not held another nationality.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has indicated support for stripping dual nationals of their citizenship: “We cannot allow bad people to use our good nature against us.”
And in a sign of the growing momentum within the Government for an overhaul of the Citizenship Act, the chairman of Parliament’s powerful Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Dan Tehan, has called for an international agreement signed with the United Nations to be amended to give Australia more power to banish terrorists.
The Government has been examining the Citizenship Act since February but until now was believed to be focused on dual nationals, such as the leaders of the 2005 MCG terror plot, Abdul Nacer Benbrika and Mohamed Ali Elomar.
But Mr Tehan has gone further, writing in the Herald Sun that Australia should follow Britain in cracking down on citizens who betray the country that has bestowed citizenship upon them.
“It is time we looked at new ways to revoke the citizenship of those who wish to harm us and have abused those rights and privileges,’’ he said.
Mr Tehan, the Liberal MP for Wannon, said the new laws introduced by the United Kingdom were “a sensible example for Australia”.
Since Australia’s terror threat level was raised to high last September, 23 people have been arrested in eight counterterrorism operations.
Government sources have told the Herald Sun that the agreement Australia signed with the UN in 1973 meant Australian citizens could not be stripped of their citizenship.
More than 60 countries have signed up to the UN Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness 1961, which is one of two treaties spelling out the legal framework to protect refugees and individuals from being rendered stateless, or without a country to call home.
It makes it almost impossible for a government to strip citizenship from a person who is not a dual national.
But unlike Australia several countries, including the UK and New Zealand, lodged notices called “reservations’’ at the time they signed the treaty, which gave them greater powers to revoke citizenship.
Mr Tehan is calling for Australia to lodge a late “reservation’’, arguing the treaty makes it more difficult for Australia to consider treason charges against some terrorists.
If Australia had previously been able to strip Australian citizenship from those who had given up their birth-country citizenship, the Government would have been able to deport Man Haron Monis, the Iranian-born hate preacher who raged against Australia for years despite being awarded citizenship.
He then went on to launch the Lindt cafe siege last year, which claimed two lives.