Centre Alliance’s bid to halt foreign fighters bill blocked


Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick's bid to get the government to release legal advice about draft laws stopping foreign fighters returning home has failed.

A last-ditch attempt to force the federal government to produce legal advice about legislation stopping terrorists from returning to Australia has been shot down.

The Morrison government's push to block extremists fighting in foreign conflicts from returning home is on track to pass parliament, with debate ongoing in the Senate on Thursday.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton insists the solicitor-general has provided the government advice saying the draft laws are not in breach of the constitution.

Islamic State group militants
The Morrison government believes it would be dangerous to repatriate Australian Islamic militants. (AAP)

Centre Alliance's Rex Patrick tried to force the government to produce the advice.

But senior government minister Simon Birmingham warned publishing the advice would allow activist lawyers like failed Greens candidate Julian Burnside to contest exclusion orders in court.

"The consequence of publishing such advice is that it is then in the hands of foreign fighters and foreign terrorists," he told parliament.

A Senate vote, which would have allowed Senator Patrick to move a motion demanding the advice, was defeated after a 36-all tie.


Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally has criticised the bill

Opposition Criticism

Labor has criticised the bill because it would allow Mr Dutton to issue temporary exclusion orders without judicial oversight.

"Given the minister for home affairs' track record at crying wolf and bending the truth, if there's one minister that requires oversight, it's the minister for home affairs," opposition home affairs spokeswoman  told parliament.

But despite raising concerns about the bill, the opposition will support the new temporary exclusion orders.

Mr Dutton argues he needs to be able to respond quickly to security threats.

Under the legislation, each decision would be reviewed by a retired judge or senior member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

People could also appeal the decisions to the Federal Court, before taking their cases to the High Court.

Greens Senator Nick McKim said the new regime would take Australia on a "zombie shuffle" into a totalitarian state.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch