Changes to immigration laws are being considered in Australia in the wake of recent terrorism events that could also see suspects stripped of citizenship.
The heightened awareness over terrorism means that all visa applicants might find their applications scrutinised more closely but Prime Minister Tony Abbott also called on immigrants to be tolerant.
He also reminded the nation that Australia is built on immigration and was a richer place as a result. He added that he had spent many hour listening to Australians from all walks of life. ‘They are angry because all too often the threat comes from someone who has enjoyed the hospitality and generosity of the Australian people,’ he explained.
Abbott outlined a series of planned counter terrorism measures including the power to revoke or suspend citizenship in the case of dual nationals. He also confirmed the government would appoint a new national counter terrorism co-ordinator.
Restrictions might reducing the ability to leave or return to Australia, and access to consular services overseas, as well as access to welfare.
‘If immigration and border protection faces a choice to let in or keep out people with security questions over them we should choose to keep them out. If there is a choice between latitude for suspects or more powers to police and security agencies, more often, we should choose to support our agencies,’ Abbott said.
He added that citizenship should be seen as an extraordinary privilege that should involve a solemn and lifelong commitment to Australia. ‘People who come to this country are free to live as they choose, provided they don’t steal that same freedom from others,’ he pointed out.
‘Those who come here must be as open and accepting of their adopted country as we are of them. Those who live here must be as tolerant of others as we are of them. No one should live in our country while denying our values and rejecting the very idea of a free and open society,’ he added.
The idea of stripping dual citizens of their Australian citizenship was first flagged publicly by the then-immigration minister, Scott Morrison, in January 2014.