Immigration Minister Peter Dutton Makes Changes To Citizenship Bill

26/11/2015 4:52 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Fairfax/Andrew Meares

The federal government has delayed debate over its citizenship bill by a week as it prepares make changes aimed at minimizing the risks of a constitutional challenge.

The bill would allow the Government to strip citizenship from dual nationals who are convicted of terrorism offences.

However it is unclear what changes are needed.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said he has held discussions with the federal opposition, following advice from the Solicitor-General.

Mr Dutton said he is confident it can get the changes through Parliament next week.

"What you don’t want to do is open yourself up to a High Court challenge risk and with any piece of legislation that is always a possibility," he told reporters in Canberra.

"So the Government has taken advice -- and I think prudent steps -- to minimise the risk of a challenge and we’ll make an amendment, which we think further enhances the Bill and that will be debated next week.

"I don’t believe it to be controversial but I think it clarifies some wording within a particular part of the Bill and on that basis I think we have a stronger Bill to defend -- which is always the case with any piece of national security legislation -- lawyers will challenge it."

The immigration minister later said in a statement the Opposition asked that it have time to consider the amendment through its party processes.

Attorney-General George Brandis said the amendments were of a technical nature and don't reflect policy change, or a change to the operation of the bill.

He said no one should make a hard and fast predictions about what the High Court might do.

“Nobody should do that and I think it is a mistake for attorneys-general to do that,” Mr Brandis told reporters.

“What our obligation is to do, is to inform by the best legal advice we can get from the Solicitor-General, from the Australian Government solicitor and the constitutional law specialist wherein the Attorney-General's department is to make the legislation as strong from a constitutional point of view as we can, and that is what we have done.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor will carefully consider the changes.

"The Government late last night sprung some last-minute changes to the arrangements which they negotiated with Labor," Mr Shorten told the ABC.

"As we always do we'll look carefully at these proposals."

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