PM wants 'patriotism' from would-be citizens as counter-terror move

PM wants 'patriotism' from would-be citizens as counter-terror move

SBS World News Radio: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says migrants seeking to become Australian citizens should be required to demonstrate their patriotism.

The Prime Minister has linked the issue of terrorism with the government's planned changes to citizenship as it pressures Labor to support the reforms.

Malcolm Turnbull says uncontrolled migration has created an 'existential threat' in other countries.

Addressing parliament on national security and terrorism, he said those who wish to live in Australia as citizens should be required to demonstrate their loyalty to Australia.

"There is no more important title in our democracy than 'Australian citizen', and we should make no apology for asking those who seek to join our Australian family to join us as Australian patriots, committed to the values that define us, committed to the values that unite us."

The citizenship changes will include new English language requirements and questions based on what the government calls "national values".

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would also be given new powers to overturn citizenship decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The opposition says they need to see the legislation in full before they decide on whether to support it.

But Labor's citizenship spokesman, Tony Burke, says he's not convinced the changes will do anything to prevent terrorism, given those seeking citizenship have already been living here for years.

"How can it be that it only applies to people who are permanent residents - all of whom are already here? If it's a national security issue, how can it be applying to people who are already here and if they are a naitonal security problem, why are they permanently living here?"

The Prime Minister hit back, saying a values-based citizenship test would reduce the risk of terrorism.

"If he does not think that a strongly integrated society, based on commitment and sharing the values that make us the nation that we are, if he thinks that has got nothing to do with national security then he totally misunderstands the nature of the threats we face.

Mr Turnbull said a recent funding boost for the Federal Police is already helping the fight against domestic terrorism.

And he says recently implemented metadata retention laws are helping law enforcement agencies track online terrorism activities.

In his response, Opposition leader Bill Shorten offered Labor's support for the government's counter-terrorism efforts.

He agrees there's more work to be done in cyberspace, where terrorists are using encrypted messages and payments to avoid detection.

"We need to track and target terrorists as they seek to hide and obscure their financial dealings through electronic currencies like bitcoin. We can allow them no sanctuary, no place to rest, we must dislodge them from wherever they hide. In doing this, though, we must always be mindful of the rule of law and the proper protections of our citizens."

The government and Labor are both calling for social media companies to do more to stop the spread of extremist material.

 

 

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