Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has urged the Labor government to bring forward the start of parliament to fix anti-terrorism laws.

The High Court on Wednesday ruled a decision by the former home affairs minister in July 2021 to remove citizenship from a Turkish-Australian man, who was imprisoned in Syria for terrorism offences, was unconstitutional.

The judgement invalidates ministerial powers to revoke a person’s citizenship under section 36B of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, which also applies to children aged 14 to 18.

Invest in the journalism that makes a difference.

EOFY Sale. A year for just $99.

ENDS MIDNIGHT

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil are examining the judgement, but say a suite of measures remain in place to manage security risks.

In 2018, the then-Labor opposition questioned the laws when they passed parliament saying they appeared constitutionally invalid – a position backed by legal and human rights groups.

Mr Dutton said the new government should quickly get legal advice and work out a legislative response.

“(They should) tell us what is available to them by way of legislation and tighten it up as best you can because, if not, there will be dire consequences and that’s the last thing that I want to see,” Mr Dutton told Sydney radio 2GB on Thursday.

He said coalition MPs were willing to come to Canberra earlier than the flagged July 26 starting date of the 47th parliament to pass any amendments.

“If parliament needs to resume next week or the week after, we will be there and we will support that because there is an urgency to this,” Mr Dutton said.

“These people will do great harm given the opportunity.”

The High Court decision has been widely welcomed by human rights and legal advocates.

Save the Children Australia CEO Mat Tinkler said the decision would improve protection for the rights of dependent children, including 47 Australian children in the Al Hol and Al Roj camps in Syria.

“The power for Australia’s home affairs minister to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals for suspected terrorism-related conduct or convictions is an abrogation of Australia’s responsibilities and is not in the best interests of dependent children,” he said.

“The children languishing in camps in Syria are some of the most vulnerable in the world and should not be made to pay for any alleged actions of their parents.”

He said in some cases children had been effectively left stateless.

Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Conventions on Statelessness, Australia has legal obligations to prevent children from being or becoming stateless. 

Delil Alexander, who remains in Syrian security custody without access to his family after his Australian citizenship was removed last year, brought the case to the High Court via his sister.

Advocates for Mr Alexander have written to the Albanese government seeking consular assistance.

SALE ENDS MIDNIGHT

Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

We’ve pushed our journalism as far as we could go. And that’s only been possible with reader support. Thank you. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, this is your time to join tens of thousands of Crikey members to take the plunge.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
SAVE 50%