The Courier-Mail

Cabinet told: get tough on treason

- ELLEN WHINNETT

THE Abbott Government’s backbench has risen up against its own Cabinet and urged tougher action against Australian terrorists.

The Courier-Mail can reveal 37 backbenche­rs have signed a letter calling on Cabinet to go further in its plans to strip citizenshi­p from Australian terrorists. The campaign, organised by Luke Simpkins and Dan Tehan, follows a Cabinet row that led to the Government delaying a decision about stripping Australian­s of their citizenshi­p.

While Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigratio­n Minister Peter Dutton (pictured) backed the hard-line approach, other Cabinet members, led by Attorney-General George Brandis, and including Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communicat­ions Minister Malcolm Turnbull, expressed strong concerns.

Afterwards, the Government said it would revoke citizenshi­p for dual-national terrorists, but would consult on other proposals, including UK-style laws to strip citizenshi­p from non-dual nationals.

The uprising involves more than half of the 59 Liberal/National backbenche­rs approached. It follows a Tuesday party room meeting in which 19 MPs spoke in favour of tougher laws.

Mr Simpkins said: “I heard what I and my colleagues said on Tuesday and was disappoint­ed with what we (the Cabinet) were going to progress because the backbench clearly wanted the UK model included as part of the legislatio­n.”

Mr Simpkins said the Government’s decision to target dual-national terrorists was welcome, but “the people of Australia want us to go further and revoke citizenshi­p for those who are Australian nationals only”.

Mr Tehan, Joint Parliament­ary Security and Intelligen­ce Committee chairman, said the UK laws would give the Immigratio­n Minister discretion to revoke citizenshi­p, provided it did not render a person stateless. “I see it as modernisin­g our treason laws. When people are committing treason against our nation, taking up arms against us, our forces, we should have all tools available to us,” he said.

Mr Dutton is advocating for Australia to adopt a similar law to the UK, which allows it to strip citizenshi­p from its people if they are able to gain citizenshi­p of another country.

The laws would allow the Government to target people such as ISIS fighter Khaled Sharrouf, who is Australian­born to Lebanese parents.

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