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Why we should revisit Section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act

July 31, 2014

I’ll deal with Australians going overseas and doing some nefarious stuff as allowed by the Citizenship Act currently.

(For one’s doing so illegally – eg: joining enemy forces, organised crime gangs or terrorist outfits, they’re dealt with under section 35 of the Australian Citizenship Act. This discourse is about activities made legal by the repeal of section 17 of the Australian Citizenship Act on 4/4/2002)


Australian dual nationals going off to fight wars or do military national service in a private capacity.

I’m very much of the opinion that we are lacking control and accountability.
Our response to violations of Australian Laws in most cases that have occurred appears to have been inadequate, (or lackadaisical).

Prevention is better than having no rigorous infrastructure to investigate arrest and prosecute offenses. We have more control over our own forces on deployments with overseas partners by our Military Police, than we have over these privateers doing god knows what with whom.

Are these guys going to be subject of the investigations, reviews and reports that the Minister for Defense presents to Parliament of our own Forces? Obviously not, yet their very nationality presents us with a vicarious liability even if only in the minds of whoever they are opposing.

We don’t need to be a target because a bunch of kids went to fight some war against some belligerent outside of our own theater of conflict.
Simply reverting to the old dual citizenship requirements of Section 17 prohibiting any joining of foreign military would simplify the matter. India does it.

And those that do want to go play war games can easily and simply renounce Australian citizenship, or do it thru secondment within the ranks of the ADF.

An old argument for the repeal was that some people wanted the ability of obtaining or retaining a passport to another country, so had to do national service in that country. Well they had (and still have) the ability to renounce Australian Citizenship.

Of contrasting interest is how the US considers the issue of a “Foreign Preference”.
For example

Particularly the express reference to serving in a foreign military service.

Australians joining transnational security firms (mercenaries)

In addition to be above concerns, I raise the subject of Australians working on contractual basis to provide military style security, intelligence collecting, analysis, hostage rescue and other such services eg Unity Resources et el.

Of major concern were reports that such individuals had been given Diplomatic Passports. I assume they were working for the Embassy, but who knows what nefarious activities they get up to. A search of the Unity Resources web site suggests among other things rescuing kidnap victims, besides close personal protection. What the hell they actually do only comes to light occasionally as in the case when two Iraqi civilians were mistakenly killed and the episode was reported in Parliament.

Throw Diplomatic immunity into the mix and I wonder whether DFAT has power to compel them to abide by the Diplomatic immunity processes and any reciprocal arrangements? These are what we would like foreigners to do, but do we apply our expectations overseas? And do they extend to every tom, dick or jackass that we give a diplomatic passport to?

Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1967/Consular Privileges and Immunities Act 1972

AFP National Guideline on people entitled to diplomatic immunity

Abuse of Australian Passports

Warning on passport forgery ignored, says former diplomat

  1. Here is something interesting as to whether Transnational Armed Groups (Mercenaries) have to comply with the Laws of Armed conflict:

    Transnational Armed Groups and International Humanitarian Law

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Following on from yesterday’s discourse over dual nationality and playing soldiers | My Blog
  2. continuing on….. | My Blog

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