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Byron Shire
October 16, 2021

Byron activist ‘could be stripped of citizenship’

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Gareth Smith during one of his regular protests against Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine. Photo Gareth Smith's Facebook site.
Gareth Smith during one of his regular protests against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Photo Gareth Smith’s Facebook site.

A well-known Byron Bay activist could become a victim of the Abbott government’s controversial laws to strip dual nationals of their Australian citizenship.

Fairfax Media reported yesterday that protesters such as 72-year-old Byron shire local Gareth Smith, a campaigner for Palestinian and East Timor issues an dual British-Australian citizen, could have his citizenship revoked under the proposed new anti-terror laws.

Law experts have criticised the wide net of criminal convictions under the new laws that would spark the loss of citizenship, as not all the offences were necessarily related to terrorism or even serious offences.

Mr Smith, a regular letter writer to Echonetdaily who was convicted years ago for damaging Commonwealth property during a protest in Canberra, says the threat of deportation for an action he’d already paid due restitution seems ’quite Orwellian’.

The Fairfax report says that under the new laws introduced this week to Parliament, dual nationals will have their citizenship revoked if convicted of crimes not necessarily connected with terrorism, such as damage to Commonwealth property.

The report says ‘Gareth Smith, 72, is hardly the death cult killer the Abbott government has in mind when it vows to strip dual national terrorists of their Australian citizenship’.

Mr Smith was convicted in 2000 of damaging Commonwealth property after he spray-painted, ‘Shame Australia!! Shame!’ in hot pink across the front of Parliament House, Canberra, as part of an East Timor protest.

He paid his debt: a bill of $16,350 to the Commonwealth for the clean-up as well as an additional fine.

‘To be under the threat of deportation for an action for which due restitution has already been made seems quite Orwellian,’ he told Fairfax Media.

The Fairfax report said Mr Smith ‘could find himself in the crosshairs ‘of the new legislation, but Mr Smith said the prospect of having to fall back on his British citizenship had not ‘sunk in’ yet.

Under the legislation, dual nationals who are convicted of offences ranging from treachery, sabotage and mutiny down to much more minor ones such damaging or destroying Commonwealth property, would be automatically stripped of their citizenship.

The Citizenship Act amendments also mean a dual national who engages in terrorism-related activity automatically forfeits their Australian citizenship even without a conviction, though they can appeal that in court.

But it’s the proposed retrospectivity of the new law which has put Mr Smith’s residency in Australia in jeopardy. (The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is currently considering whether it should be made retrospective).

Labor, which supports the legislation in principle, said it would closely examine the types of offence convictions that could spark citizenship loss ‘to ensure it contains no unintended consequences’.

 


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14 COMMENTS

  1. He could always go and live in Gaza seeing as he loves it so much. Maybe Abbot will cop a deportation order seeing as he has damaged the entire Commonwealth. Count down to when someone one blames the Jews 10,9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1.

  2. Go get an application for a passport, and read, if you can, the words that state, that this Country can cancel the dual citizenship of any person.

    Please remember: Artie Calwell (labor leader-1950s) was a staunch advocate of the White Australia Policy: while Europeans were welcomed to Australia, Calwell was deporting many Malayan, Indochinese and Chinese wartime refugees, some of whom had married Australian citizens and started families in Australia.

  3. It really is simple !
    Anyone serving in overseas conflict and not under the direction of the ADF (Australian Defense Force ) should forfeit Australian citizenship.
    Simple and just.
    Although I’ve never heard of Gareth Smith, he doesn’t appear to be, in any way, of any concern and in all probability a damned good candidate for Australian of the Year.
    G”)

    • What about when our “ADF” is fighting unjust wars for our misguided leaders, doing the bidding of the American “Imperialist” dream.

  4. I shouldn’t think a 72 year old coot is quite what Abbott had in mind when he drafted his upgrade to ‘deportations pending’ and it’s just mischievous to suggest that this bloke’s in any danger.

  5. The law can often be an ass.
    And if ridden by a donkey like Abbott (no offense to donkeys intended), then who knows where that could lead to.
    It’s interesting how such an ardent hard working pacifist like Gareth Smith, can likely be caught up in this new radar.
    100% wrong . .

  6. Seriously people, there is a difference between a protestor/activist and a TERRORIST. I would be gob-smacked if anyone in the government or security services gives a flying-you-know-what about Mr Smith!

    • in the eyes of the government, an activist is a terrorist. Hence the new “laws”. Lets see how these laws impact the dual citizens who take part in the next Bentley, especially if the police were not held back.

  7. If you look at the official definition of a terrorist in the USA it includes a person who mentions the US Constitution/Declaration of Independence. One of those documents requires citizens to overthrow their government if the government is not serving the people.

    As any observant person can see that the most prominent politicians all over the world are usually the mouthpiece of big business and normally ignore the voters and their families when passing laws then truly few if any people who can think are safe from the Orwellian world we now live under. Is that ok with you?

  8. I went on a bus trip to Canberra (maybe in 2000) that included Gareth Smith. We did a protest at the door of Parliament House and were enthusiastically joined by a large group of aboriginals, many of whom were camped semi-permanently on the lawn nearby. The original Australians lit piles of paper generating lots of smoke and getting quite excited and noisy and clearly alarming the security guards inside. Notably Gareth and a few Byron activists approached the shouters and quietly calmed the whole drama down while others climbed on the roof of parliament, causing the creation of a new law forbidding such climbing.

    Yes Australian of the year as Ken suggested earlier, would be far more suitable

  9. What a hero Gareth is! Standing up for those who face the most flagrant injustices in the modern day world. He doesn’t think twice putting his body (he has been injured numerous times during protesting), reputation (dealing with outspoken opponents who try to discredit his unbreakable integrity) and finances (thousands of hours and fines ranging from trespass to damage of Commonwealth property) on the line to give the oppressed a voice and fair representation in the media.

    If there was any justice and morality in Australian politics, Tony Abbott and his cronies would deport themselves for misappropriating Commonwealth funds, terrorising the environment and sending Aussie diggers off to illegal wars and then telling them “shit happens” when they die!

    Phillip Glanville, if you had read the article you should have read that Gareth is ‘a regular letter writer to the Echonet’. So he can obviously read and write, and is in fact, one of the most intelligent and articulate people I know. Perhaps you should worry about your own literacy levels if you can’t even understand simple text.

  10. Making dual citizenship a second and lower class of citizenship. This seems to be way to broad, it does not seem to be about terrorism as much as it is about the quest for absolute power, and the suppression of opposition voices by any means at all. The Liberal Labor Coalition wants it all for the rich white Australian miners to rip apart.

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