Withdrawing Australian citizenship from traitors

Treachery is no ordinary crime and should be deterred, countered and severely punished accordingly.


Letter to The Australian 
Wednesday, 27 May 2015
(published Thursday, 28 May 2015)

Community confusion about revoking the Australian citizenship of those serving with the so-called “Islamic State” is surely best fixed by explaining its correct counter-treachery context.

Australians fighting for, or otherwise assisting, an enemy at war with Australia are clearly guilty of treachery.

Not just some ordinary type of crime or democratic dissent with few or no implications nationally or individually.

A core reciprocal obligation of Australian citizenship is not to betray fellow Australians generally, or members of our the Australian Defence Force specifically, by fighting with or otherwise assisting an enemy in armed conflict with Australia.

The 2002 reform finally closing the Wilfred Burchett loophole in our treachery laws (about wars needing to be “declared” when the UN Charter had prohibited such declarations in 1945) provides the obvious precedent.

First, not reciprocating our citizenship responsibilities to fellow Australians deployed with our defence force during 1946-2001 was too long delayed and we should not let them down again.

Second, the reform also proscribed acts assisting any armed group fighting the ADF, not just an enemy nation-state.

Third, this is especially relevant when an enemy deliberately contravenes international humanitarian law across the board and contemptuously regards our adherence as a vulnerability to be exploited, not emulated.

Unless they can be prosecuted for treachery in Australia all such traitors, even those with no other citizenship, need to have it withdrawn to properly reflect the serious nature of treachery as a crime.

The UN convention on preventing statelessness does not absolutely prohibit this in such cases and the traitors have freely chosen to switch allegiance to their supposed new “state” anyway.  


Back to Letters: 2015