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Australian Govt to revoke citizenship based on “confidential information” (sbs.com.au)
74 points by vermilingua 8 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 72 comments

Australia is fast turning into a police state. Feels like every other day I'm reading something about the gov't exerting more authority over its people.

Could be worse. We could have our police shooting us on a daily basis.

You forgot to add “for no reason”.

Clickbait title: AFAIK this applies only to revoking recently granted (first generation) citizenships. Australia already has provisions to do this for cases like falsified applications, as does virtually everywhere else.

It's still a slippery slope though, and there was justified outcry earlier about plans to revoke citizenship for awfully loosely defined "terrorism" and similar offences.

I don't particularly care. It's still absolutely grotesque that a government can revoke citizenship of any citizen whatsoever due to information they do not have any obligation to share with said citizen. The right to defend oneself against alledged infractions is the cornerstone to the rule of law, and that requires knowing what those infractions are.

This is the product of a power-tripping authoritarian government unchecked by a disgustingly apathetic citizenry who, so long as they have the ability to fire up a BBQ and crack a beer over the footy aftter spending the day fishing, will not give one shit about what rights the government strips away.

It's hard to describe how apathetic the average Aussie voter is. The political discourse here is squalid. It's the same reason why digital rights are under such an onslaught.

Disclaimer: am Aussie.

Stephen Harper, the previous prime minister of Canada, passed a similar law, which was fortunately overturned when his party lost power in the next election. People (IMHO rightly) criticized that it created different classes of citizenship, making citizens of immigrant background having less rights than born Canadians.

It's scary how fast one of the most liked and trusted governments in the world can lose the trust of its people. Previous governments were not perfect but they had worked hard to earn that public trust (John Howard years and earlier) and now it's been abused.

I think the reason that the Australian public is so passive about all these draconian rules is that they always (somewhat rightly) felt that they could trust their government and that their government had their best interests at heart. I think it may have been one of the best governments in the world. Most people who lived there could attest that the tax code is simple, not much bureaucracy, high quality internet services (almost all government services are available online), welfare system is good, public medical insurance was good (and private insurance very affordable), good education system (top universities are accessible to regular people), opportunities for all (there are plenty of well paid blue collar jobs). It's a shame to see them abuse this trust.

"High quality internet services" are you kidding me?!

I remember I couldn't get a wired broadband connection to my apartment in Melbourne because the local exchange ports were all filled up and the ISP refused to invest more because of the NBN (fiber optic roll out) that never ended up happening. I literally checked every-day for many months to see if I could get an internet connection.

Australian high speed fiber optic internet was sabotaged by the Liberal government and Murdoch empire and now the infrastructure probably wont be improved for a very long time to come, another example of blatant corruption in which the people end up suffering for.

>> "High quality internet services" are you kidding me?!

I was mostly referring to government websites, online banking, retirement accounts, etc... For example, in Germany, a lot of stuff is still done by paper mail. I've lived in other countries which had web portals but they were often terrible and didn't work properly.

It's only after living outside of Australia for a few years that I understood how smooth all the processes related to the government were over there. In Europe, to get anything done (like to get a national ID card), you have to run around to all sorts of different agencies to collect different paper documents and forms which depend on each other and nobody explicitly tells you what order you're supposed to get them in... It's only when you physically go to one agency that they then ask you to fill out a Form1234 and Form5678 which you were supposed to get from two different government agencies...

As an example, in Australia, to prove my identity, they had a score system so I could bring in different documents like a bank credit card, driver's licence and a passport and they would add up all the scores and it had to exceed a threshold. That was convenient. In Europe, to do some administrative procedure, they may often ask you for a specific document like a certified copy of your birth certificate which is less than 3 months old to prove your identity; it doesn't matter that you have a passport, a credit card, a driver's license, bank statements, a national ID card; they only want to see the birth certificate, there is no flexibility in the process and it's easy to get stuck; and if you do, it takes ages to resolve.

Ah, sorry I misunderstood. I totally agree with you, I live in Germany so I know perfectly well how superior the ATO and MyGov services are compared to my local Finanzamt

The whole citizenship revocation sounds absurd. If an immigrant has given up their previous citizenship after gaining Australian citizenship revocation makes them a person without citizenship which is a rather weird concept. If they didn't there still is no such concept which would make them more of a citizen of one country than another so revoking their citizenship doesn't make much more sense than that of one who has been born a citizen. It they are considered a criminal - fine them or put them in a prison, just like you would any other citizen.

The high profile controversies of this nature all seem to be people who have gone off to join ISIS. In these cases, when were they made stateless, and by whom?. Was it when their previous country revoked their citizenship? When they were initially displaced from ISIS controlled territory? When ISIS suffered a territorial defeat?

I know it's a complicated issue, but leaving your home nation to join an upstart state that's ostensibly waging a war against it (as unconventional of a war as it is/was) has to be one of the general cases where it's most acceptable.

Sure, but that's not the point is it? What you describe is already easily covered by a general law against treason, in that they joined a war effort against their country.

The point here is the "confidential information" bit.

Treason itself is a slippery, morally obsolete (probably coming from the feudal ages) concept which I wouldn't apply to people who have been born a citizen, never asked for that in their sane age, never volunteered to join the country military or civil services or signed up for access to secret documents.

The parent comment is about the concept of citizenship revocation in general.

> The Law Council of Australia ... said there are concerns about new proposed legal provisions, which would allow a visa to be cancelled or a person's citizenship revoked on the basis of confidential information provided by government agencies ... The information provided by gazetted agencies - such as foreign law enforcement bodies and other Australian agencies - can be used without the person knowing the information is being used or having a chance to respond to the information itself


I may be very ill-informed: I thought that one's visa acceptance, and I thought also cancellation, to visit the USA, is discretional and unrequiring solid justification? I thought that legislative proposal in Australia was not uncommon for visas, though it is certainly an overly huge matter for what citizenship is concerned. ("They tell us you are a dissident, former citizen".)

I don't know about the US, but at least in Canada, permanent residents have the same right of entry as Canadian citizens. Revoking permanent residency is (to oversimplify things a bit) not up to discretion either; rather, it is governed by laws defining the precise conditions that must be met in order for permanent residency to be revocable.

In Australia, permanent residency is a type of visa. I imagine that's what they are talking about.

Something similar is done in Denmark.

So guy a with dual citizenship goes to Syria to fight, his Danish citizenship gets revoked by administrative means. How does the authorities know that particular guy was in Syria? Will they let the guy know? In broad terms yes, in details probably not. He can come back to DK and have his day in court and jail, if he wants to find out more.

Sounds harsh, and I am not sure I agree with it. But that is the way this type of legislation works.

Flagged, the title seems to be “ Legal experts have criticised the government's proposed amendments to visa and citizenship laws” which is less inflammatory.

The article is about a parliamentary committee hearing but the title makes it seem like it’s actually happening.

The original title, aside from containing no useful information, was far too long to fit in the titlebox.

And if you've been following the news, the average turnaround on our government having a "parliamentary committee hearing" on a bill and passing it into law is about 3 days.

> And if you've been following the news, the average turnaround on our government having a "parliamentary committee hearing" on a bill and passing it into law is about 3 days.

The article is dated august 27. If your estimate was accurate the bill should already be passed and this news story could be replaced with one about the final text of the bill.

I highly disagree. The original title has nothing to do with the contentious "meat" of the article other than being factually correct and "neutral"-enough to be ignored. It may as well be a Reuters article in terms of the headline.

It's like having an article about a facial recognition surveillance law being enacted by government and the title being: "Privacy Experts Criticize Government Legislation on Surveillance"

It isn't linked in the article so heres the bill if anyone else wants a read: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislat...

This particular Gov is particularly corrupt. It routinely takes from the people to feed its own parties coffers.

it routinely uses the courts in unethical ways. It routinely uses the overwhelming dominance of the murdoch media to spill misinformation about any opponent.

Australia's government is increasingly the world's laughing stock. It sucks - years ago I would consider migrating there. These days, not so much.

(My government's ever worse btw)

Police states gonna police state. First disarm them, then take all their rights away for "safety and the children" otherwise you might be a "terrorist".

Resist tyranny while you can people, its a gradual march, it can happen anywhere.

Australia is not a police state, or even close. I live in Melbourne, the city with the strictest lockdown laws, and people flout the laws in front of the cops all the time. They don't give a fuck any more either.

> and people flout the laws in front of the cops all the time. They don't give a fuck any more either.

Laws that have negligible compliance rates but can be enforced on a whim to cause problems for people who dare cause problems for the government (or those whom the government serves) are a hallmark of totalitarian states.

So the USA is a totalitarian state then because people flout the laws on speeding and jaywalking in front of the police all the time.

Given the growth in law, regulation and economic share of the state I could see the argument for the US being defined as totalitarian, yes.

You can say almost anything you want no matter how offensive or political in the USA (e.g. Elon Musk winning at trial after calling a random innocent a pedophile, constant political campaigning from every side accusing the others of horrible things). We regularly vote out and replace our leaders every 2-4 years in a free democratic election. It just doesn’t make sense to call this totalitarian, or if so it cheapens the word totalitarian to mean nothing.

These degrees of freedom exist, yes. They also don’t entirely repudiate the basic claim that the US is substantially a totalitarian state. The genesis of it didn’t come from a revolution devolved into a cult of personality as in past times. I think it mostly stems from relatively benign reasons, growth in entitlements, “there aught to be a law” attitudes, zero tolerance, unending internal wars/crusades against poverty, crime and drugs.

Totalitarianism is a proposed concept used in academia and in politics to describe a form of government and political system that prohibits all opposition parties, outlaws individual opposition to the state and its claims, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life.


People intentionally speed in front of the police? I certainly slow down whenever I see one and make a habit of not passing one.

Pretty much everyone on the highway in the USA is going at least 5mph over the speed limit unless traffic is congested. Police notoriously have an excuse to pull almost anyone over at any time. It’s still not a totalitarian state though.

Try jaywalking in Seattle unless you are homeless. I had one yell at me from three blocks away.

It's more about a society enabling the police state and associated powers, rather than a particular circumstance of some police not choosing to use the powers they've been granted.

Whistleblowers are tried in secret courts, press freedoms are curtailed, and surveillance is advancing at an alarming rate. Sorry, it doesn't stop being a police state just because police don't arrest you for jaywalking.

$5000 fines for protesting government policy, $10,000 fines for sharing information about "illegal" protests on Facebook. Licensed journalists harassed by police and told they will be fined if they don't leave because they're outside illegally. Etc...

Are you sure it isn't a police state at this point? Because if that were anywhere else I'm pretty sure we'd call it a police state.

Witness J, Pine Gap, "The Boat People", Australian Genocide. Australia as been a police state since the beginning.

In the same sense that all the western colonial/settler states did/do the same, including (or especially) the US. Slavery, indigenous genocide/displacement, and involvement in colonial/imperialist wars. Par for the course.

> First disarm them

I still don't understand this mentality.

The ability to enact change in government is entirely unrelated to the ability to posses firearms.

It's the real and perceived threat of resistance. Do you think 'compliance officers' would be more willing/confident going door to door in a society that is armed or disarmed? A different approach might have been a used in East Germany if every house the Stasi went into looking for 'undesirables' had the potential for meeting a shotgun.

What's a compliance officer, and why are they going to people's homes?

> A different approach might have been a used in East Germany if every house the Stasi went into looking for 'undesirables' had the potential for meeting a shotgun.

Not everything has to be compared to Nazi Germany.

I'll note that the lower possession of guns does have a difference in how we interact with the police, ad how the police interact with everyone else.

For instance, Officer-involved shootings are practically non-existent. For that matter, shootings of any kind are practically non-existent.

No-knock / SWAT style raids and use of pyrotechnics/flash-bangs/etc are reserved for where there's a lot more evidence that someone has a large number of weapons.

Nobody is afraid they might get shot by a police officer because they reached into their glove box or into their pocket.

I'm not saying things are all rainbows and unicorns, but still...

I don't see how turning up to talk to your representatives with a whole bunch of weapons is going to make the conversation go any better.

>Not everything has to be compared to Nazi Germany.

Exactly. And that's why he said East Germany and not Nazi Germany.

If you don't like it you can easily substitute in a plethora of other soviet satellite states that had secret police.

A compliance officer is a theoretical example role (that was meant to be easy to draw parallels to) of a person tasked with checking compliance of some form. (Eg. that you're Isolating / no visitors, no contraband, your telescreen is on etc.)

Nazi Germany is used as hyperbole - because it's both that and historically true (demonstrating the hyperbole to be still tangible).

I agree there are some great things about living in a society largely free from gun crime and the risk of being unnecessarily shot by police. But in Australia we have basically no meaningful internal backstop should a tyrannical government sweep over us.

I'm also definitely not advocating using or displaying weapons when talking with your representatives. I think that's a dishonest and uncharitable interpretation of what I've written. I am saying however that any laws may find it difficult for broad enforcement in a society that is armed and displeased with whatever law is attempting to be enforced -- and that that is a deterrent to creating such laws in the first place.

Political power grows out the barrel of a gun, all power does. If you have 2 groups of people, one group armed and one unarmed, which one is in charge?

> Political power grows out the barrel of a gun, all power does.

I disagree. That sounds more like a military junta than a government.

> If you have 2 groups of people, one group armed and one unarmed, which one is in charge?

Insufficient information.

The members of government are, by and large, unarmed - and certainly unarmed when in Canberra. Our defence forces have a whole bunch of firearms, yet answers to and obeys the lawful orders of the government.

I agree. Although there's some truth to the gun argument in certain societies, it's definitely not universal truth. It's interesting that this argument is often made by Americans of all people, where guns - while very prevalent - do not equal political power at all. Also ironically all those who claim their guns protect them from tyranny do not seem to notice how their rights are taken away bit by bit and the gun makes no difference. When that heavily militarized SWAT team kicks in your door one day to arrest you for the illegal Twitter post, all good the gun does is that you can use it to evade arrest by killing yourself. Don't need a gun for that.

An armed populace does not prevent abuse by the government but the more level the playing field between the government and any given subset of the populace the harder it is to abuse that subset.

For example, the ability for Seargeant Jerk to feel justified in sending a SWAT team to your door at 4AM on the (plausibly deniable) suggestion of a government official who is highly peeved by your public criticism of his/her policy is directly proportional to how likely that 4AM raid is to go badly enough to attract media attention and the tough questions that follow. It's a hell of a lot harder to justify abuse when you have to put your people and your credibility as a professional in danger to do it.

Of course, things could still go badly if the populace is not armed but it's orders of magnitude more likely. And of course the government can still harass people without entering their homes but it's much less efficient.

Social media, viral content and dank memes make the people on a more level playing field with the government when it comes to disseminating information and coordinating (yes, this has downsides, so be it). Firearms (or any other tool of violence) perform similar functions but for violence. They serve as a force multiplier for the individual and decrease the size of the biggest group of people the government can marginalize. We don't usually think of information as being something the state has a monopoly over because few states do these days (i.e. basically just north Korea) but if you rewind the clock to back before the printing press all the parallels are there. The state/church held a tight grip on information but not violence. Today things are reversed with the state having near absolute power to enact violence. Holding a tight enough monopoly on either can enable near absolute control.

Must be nice to have that much faith.

Write your local representatives and hope you don't get pepper sprayed when you protest. That's the way you defeat tyranny.

People protest all the time. Pepper spray rarely gets involved.

Even during the pandemic there's been protests. Most of which were pretty peaceful.

We were never particularly armed in the first place.

Last I saw Australia still has millions of guns.

Even if we had 10 million guns, they'd all be hunting guns and you still couldn't start a militia with them. We're not even a pointy stick in comparison to America's civilian gun ownership. The reason I point a comparison to America, is because the comment about "disarming" the public clearly starts from a previously armed public, and of those there are actually pretty few, and only one which I know to keep gun ownership as such a strong part of it's identity.

It's no doubt something you would need to do to have a totalitarian government take over the US, but it's not really a step required for most other countries. There' aren't many countries that could raise a militia capable of overthrowing a military backed government just from it's citizens.

Yeah but that's for hunting mostly, right? You can never take that away. Is it possible to legally carry a sidearm (concealed or not) in Australia?

The firearms licensing laws vary from state to state, but as a general rule you need a 'legitimate' reason to own a firearm, and self-defence is generally not one of them.

For instance in NSW (the state that Sydney is in) - the NSW Police have a list of Genuine Reasons to own a firearm[1].

There's also other criteria you need to meet.

It means that day to day, as a general rule the only people you might encounter with a firearm are police officers. That is, unless you work in a rural area or in one of those related industries.

[1] https://portal.police.nsw.gov.au/s/article/Firearms-Licensin...

It's impossible to get a handgun licence for self-defence unless you work for a security company like Armaguard, who are only allowed to use guns for defence of property rather than bodyguard-style services.

and sport shooting yes

Australia's government is conservative, and their rights-taking is mostly racist.

They're leaving less room for themselves to criticize China.

Same here. I genuinely love Australia (the country) and Australians (the people). But their government is atrocious and has been for years. Now I am too old (45) to be allowed to move there and get PR. Ridiculous but that's how their laws are.

Their loss.

I had plans moving there as well and I'm still eligible but there's no way in hell I'm going through with it after all that's happened recently. Spooky stuff.

45 is too old? That is like in your prime!

Does the law have a safeguard to prevent someone becoming stateless?

Over the last two weeks it seems like there's been a runaway bandwagon of people who have never been to Australia somehow getting it into their heads that it's a totalitarian state. Mainly, this has been based on sensationalist and biased reporting, in a vicious cycle.

Of course we have a vain and ineffectual government and some overreach on privacy laws. But it's bizarre how the internet has decided that Australia is now a police state - we have all the same liberties that normal Western democracies have. For the majority of the pandemic there were essentially zero restrictions in place, and now there are temporary lockdown in place until vaccination targets are hit. What's the alternative, kill 1 in 490 of the population like other countries have?

The online hysteria over Australia has to stop, it's not rooted in reality.

It is rooted in reality, you are inside and cannot see yourself, the frog, being boiled. It always has been a police state.

They literally just introduced new laws that allow cops to modify data and without a warrant from a judge. Wake up bro!

It really often is harder to notice these things when you're part of it. It's not like such systems are necessarily bad places to live initially. We have this exaggerated view of what political evil looks like based on the most excessive examples of the past. But it's more important noting the creep towards that point, once a state has gone full fascist it's too late.

> They literally just introduced new laws that allow cops to modify data and without a warrant from a judge.

No. They introduced three types of warrants with sole purpose of modifying data.

That only require a magistrate at the administrative tribunal. Not a judge. And they can be obtained after the fact.

Removing citizenship without providing a reason is an inhumane crime. Have some empathy and get a reality check. This is next level authoritarian shit and you seem to let it slide and call it hysteria.

The perception partly comes about because putting the boot into the government is Australia's national sport. When Australians repeatedly rip into their government the Internet eventually starts to believe what they say. Ironically the fact that we do rip into our government is probably a sign the the fundamentals of Australian democracy are doing okay.

Mind you, the Morrison government deserves every kick it gets, especially if it's a kick up the bum at the next Federal election.

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