LOOSE LIBS LEAK TIPS
Cabinet talk reveals tension in the ranks
CABINET leaks about a dispute over the latest crackdown on terrorism have sparked new tensions and suspicion within the Abbott Government.
Ministers have privately taken aim at Cabinet colleagues who raised concerns about stripping citizenship from suspected terrorists who are dual nationals or eligible for citizenship in another country. The tensions came as Social Services Minister Scott Morrison backed a planned extension to include terrorists who are sole Australian citizens.
This could see Australians who are fighting overseas with terrorist groups barred from returning home, he said.
The Government will introduce legislation to strip dual nationals of their citizenship for supporting terrorism within weeks. But it could extend th i s crackdown and is seeking submissions on proposals.
Temporary suspensions of citizens’ rights to re-enter Australia or stripping citizenship from those who have a right to become a citizen of another country follows similar moves in the United Kingdom.
But the proposals have split Cabinet, with ministers including George Brandis, Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop criticising plans to allow Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to revoke citizenship even if a person has not been convicted.
Cabinet met yesterday amid the highest level of suspicion since the failed leadership spill against the PM.
Leaked details of Cabinet deliberations have embarrassed Mr Abbott and angered other senior ministers. One minister told The Courier-Mail those who complained about human rights breaches were too concerned about how they were viewed in “upper-class” legal circles and were not paying enough attention to concerns of marginal voters.
In a pointed criticism of Ms Bishop, the minister said “Julie still mixes with all the partners of (law firm) Clayton Utz”.
Mr Abbott denied he took Cabinet by surprise with the proposals when they were discussed last week despite revelations Ms Bishop had not known about the key development in her portfolio.
The PM can take some comfort from the latest Newspoll in today’s edition of The Australian showing his satisfaction level had risen to 38 per cent compared to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on 32. The Coalition still trails Labor 48-52 (two-party preferred).