How Deborah O'Neill voted compared to someone who believes that the federal government should give the immigration minister the power to revoke the citizenship of people who have dual nationality (that is, are also citizens of another country) if they take part in certain terrorism-related offences

Division Deborah O'Neill Supporters vote Division outcome

3rd Sep 2020, 4:22 PM – Senate Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Cessation) Bill 2020 - Second Reading - Agree with the bill's main idea

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The majority voted in favour of a motion to agree with the bill's main idea. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read it for a second time. This means they can now discuss the bill in more detail.

What is the bill's main idea?

According to the bills digest, the bill:

will amend the scheme for national security-related citizenship cessation in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (the Citizenship Act) to:

  • replace ‘operation of law’ provisions in which Australian citizenship is automatically renounced on the basis of certain conduct, with a ministerial-decision model for citizenship cessation
  • reduce the sentence threshold for cessation based on conviction for certain offences, from a sentence of at least six or ten years imprisonment (depending on when the sentence was imposed), to a sentence of at least three years imprisonment
  • change the ‘statelessness test’ by removing the precondition that the person is a citizen of another country and substituting a prohibition on the Minister making a determination where the Minister is satisfied that a person will be made stateless by the determination
  • amend the procedures for the giving of notice of a citizenship cessation and
  • introduce procedures by which a person whose citizenship ceases may apply to the Minister for revocation.

The amendments will apply retrospectively.

Why is the bill controversial?

The bills digest sets out some of the main issues in the bill:

  • reducing the sentence threshold for conviction-based citizenship cessation is not proportionate and lacks justification
  • amending the statelessness test will increase the risk of statelessness and narrow the scope for judicial review
  • there has been insufficient justification provided for the Bill’s retrospective application
  • although the [Independent National Security Legislation Monitor]’s proposed model included a limited form of merits review, the Bill does not make provision for this and
  • proposed procedural safeguards, including automatic revocation of the cessation determination where a court makes certain factual findings, may not be functional and thus may not provide practical protection against arbitrary citizenship loss and statelessness.
absent Yes Passed by a large majority

1st Dec 2015, 9:01 PM – Senate Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill 2015 - Second Reading - Agree with the bill's main idea

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The majority voted in favour of of the main idea of the bill. In parliamentary language, they voted to give the bill a second reading. The senators will now discuss the bill in more detail.

What is the bill's main idea?

The main idea of the bill is to remove the Australian citizenship of a dual national in certain situations, including if they fight for or serve a terrorist organisation (read more in the bills digest and ABC News).

Concerns about the bill

The senators who opposed the main idea of the bill had several concerns, including the following:

  • Senator Jacqui Lambie is concerned that the bill gives the power to revoke citizenship to a politician (the minister) rather than "an impartial judicial process" and she is concerned about how the bill will apply to the Australian Kurdish community (read her full speech);
  • Senator Nick Xenophon is concerned that the bill "will not make Australians safer" and believes it would be better where possible to ensure potential terrorists "are dragged back to this country to face trial and a lengthy period of imprisonment" rather than being free to potentially attack overseas Australians or other innocent people (read his whole speech);
  • Senator David Leyonhjelm is concerned that the bill further "erode[s] the rights and freedoms of Australians" (read his full speech);
  • Senator Nick McKim said the Australian Greens "believe that citizenship is too precious a gift and confers too many important rights to be effectively stripped at the whim of a government or at the whim of a minister" (read his full speech).

You can read the entire debate in the lead up to this vote on OpenAustralia.

absent Yes (strong) Passed by a modest majority

How "never voted" is worked out

Normally a person's votes count towards a score which is used to work out a simple phrase to summarise their position on a policy. However in this case Deborah O'Neill was absent during all divisions for this policy. So, it's impossible to say anything concrete other than that they have "never voted" on this policy.