It wasn’t that long ago when Prime Minister Scott Morrison ran out the parliament clock to ensure our refugee policy remained as diligent as possible.
Now, just days into 2019, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is displaying the same kind of resolve over Australian national security.
Dutton stands by his decision to revoke Australian citizenship from Islamic State jihadist and recruiter Neil Prakash, insisting that ‘based on all the intricate detail and fact of this particular matter, is that Mr Prakash is, by operation of law, a citizen of Fiji’, he told reporters in Brisbane earlier this week.
With Fiji continuing to refuse to accept this ISIS-associated 27-year-old, Prakash is now stateless.
But Dutton is not shying away from making Melbourne-born Prakash the 12th dual citizen from Australia to have their citizenship removed for committing actions contrary to their Australian alliance.
Prakash a citizen to nowhere
Dutton’s decision is, thankfully, supported by some.
Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives, Darren Chester, said late last year that the Australian government will never apologise ‘for being tough on terrorists’.
‘I think the Australian public would expect the Government to revoke Australian citizenship rights of people who act contrary to that.
‘Australian citizenship gives you rights but responsibilities. Responsibilities around allegiance to Australia and not consorting with terrorists organisations.’
Prakash’s Australian passport was cancelled in 2014. He was added to the sanctions list the following year.
Since 2016, as the Australian Associated Press reports, Prakash has been held in custody on the Turkey-Syria border, after trying to enter Tukey with false documents.
Dutton insists he informed Fiji of his decision before it went public, and has been working with Fiji since the announcement.
But the head of Fiji’s Immigration Department is adamant that Prakash is not a fellow Fijian, despite his father being one. And frankly, just like Dutton, Fiji have a right to refuse the terrorist.
Australian National University expert on international law, Professor Donald Rothwell, told the Associated Press it was Fiji’s decision alone to determine their citizens.
‘It cannot be assumed even though Prakash and his family may have some connections with Fiji, that his Fijian citizenship would be recognised by the Fijian government.’
While this may be the case, however, it in no way has reshaped Dutton’s decision to have Prakash unwelcome in our country. And, after what the man has reportedly done, we’d do well to have leaders like Dutton keeping our country safe.
We will not accept a self-confessed terrorist
Prakash has self-confessed to being a member of the Islamic State, possessing the alias title Abu Khaled al-Cambodi.
Prakash claims he was not involved with the group in Australia. But former attorney-general George Brandis described the 27-year-old as ‘the principal Australian reaching back from the Middle East into Australia’.
Counter-terrorism officials claim Prakash has appeared in Islamic State propaganda which encouraged attacks in Australia, and has even been linked by the FBI to a failed attack on the Statue of Liberty in New York.
AAP reports that, if he is convicted in Australia of terrorism, Prakash faces a potential life sentence.
Clearly, when it comes to the safety of our nation, the ones in charge are not messing around.
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