From cutting state benefits to potentially revoking citizenship, the reforms announced by Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott are designed to discourage Aussies from becoming involved in terrorist activities.
“It has long been the case that people who fight against Australia forfeit their citizenship,” Abbott said in a speech given at Australian federal police headquarters. “So Australians who take up arms with terrorist groups, especially while Australian military personnel are engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, have sided against our country. And should be treated accordingly.”
Australian citizens involved in terrorism will face various sanctions including restricted ability to leave Australia, reduced access to consular services and state benefits, cancelled passports, and suspended or even revoked citizenship.
Mr. Abbott added that while some Australians fighting with ISIS had been receiving state benefits, all payments to “individuals assessed to be a threat to security” would be stopped.
Australian officials believe there are dozens of Australians working with terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria who pose a threat to the country should they return. 100 passports belonging to citizens with suspected terrorist affiliations have been cancelled since 2010 but these people still possess Australian citizenships and thus the right to return to the country.
The Prime Minister also plans to appoint a new “security tsar,” who will work towards preventing terrorist organizations from spreading fear and hate. “Organizations and individuals blatantly spreading discord and division — such as Hizb ut-Tahrir — should not do so with impunity,” he said.
These reforms come shortly after the cafe attack in Sydney in which Islamic terrorist Han Haron Monis besieged Lindt Cafe, ultimately causing the deaths of two Australians.
Australia’s security hotline received 18 calls regarding Monis shortly before the attack; he had also ordered an Islamic State flag, though no direct ties between Monis and the group were confirmed.