Backbenchers petition for tougher citizenship laws

GOVERNMENT backbenchers are pushing Prime Minister Tony Abbott to introduce tougher citizenship laws than several Cabinet ministers support.

Mr Abbott is expected to soon introduce laws to revoke the citizenship of dual nationals who engage in, or support, terrorism.

Under the current proposal, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would get the power to revoke such citizenships, despite no convictions being made against those individuals.

While Mr Dutton would hold "ministerial discretion", he has said his decision would be subject to merits review, but he did not outline the specifics.

The laws follow a heated Cabinet meeting last week, which Fairfax reported included a split in ministerial ranks over the planned legislation.

It is understood Mr Abbott and Mr Dutton backed wider powers to include revoking the citizenship of Australians without a dual nationality.

Such powers could breach Australia's international obligations not to render people stateless, and Mr Dutton has said that was not the plan.

However, 40 backbenchers have since signed a petition calling on Mr Abbott to extend the planned laws to strip people eligible to be dual nationals of their Australian citizenship.

Chairman of the parliament's powerful Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, Dan Tehan, presented the petition to Mr Abbott's office on Monday.

Mr Abbott said on Monday he would read the petition, taking it as a sign that "local members are listening to their people".

While the Coalition has called for Labor's support, the current bipartisan approach to national security appears to be fracturing.

Labor leader Bill Shorten has said he could not back laws that were not yet publicly released.

Deputy chairman of parliament's intelligence committee, Anthony Byrne, also called for the legislation to be released.

He said it was crucial the committee was able to maturely consider and debate the proposals before Labor could lend its support.

Several crossbench senators also have voiced their concerns about the proposal, rendering Labor's support crucial for the government.

Topics:  citizenship parliament politics

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