Byron Bay activist could be deported under new terror laws
A SELF-confessed "serial protester" from Byron Bay who spraypainted "Shame Australia. Shame" in hot pink on Parliament House could be deported under proposed laws to strip dual nationals convicted of certain crimes of their Australian citizenship.
Gareth Smith, now 72, and four others climbed on the roof of Parliament House in Canberra on September 11, 1999, and graffitied the iconic building, making national news. The group were arrested and charged with criminal damages.
In 2000, Mr Smith faced the Canberra Magistrates Court where he was ordered to pay $16,350 to the Commonwealth for the clean-up.
Now, 15-years-later, he could be in the government's crosshairs, but he has had the chance to consider the proposed laws and his position.
"To be under the threat of deportation for an action for which due restitution has already been made seems quite Orwellian," he said.
Under the legislation introduced into parliament on Wednesday, dual nationals convicted of certain offences would lose their Australian citizenship.
Mr Smith said the graffiti was a protest against the actions of Australian Federal Police when he was working as an electoral officer in the 1999 East Timor independence poll.
"The Federal Police came to our polling booth and rushed us out and said there's going to be a blood bath," he said. "They said there's a helicopter coming to take you to Darwin.
"The aftermath of that was when the militias went in with their machetes, burning the villages.
"It was so atrocious that four of us climbed on to Parliament House roof in a protest to try and get an international UN Peacekeeper Force put in to protect the people. It certainly sent a message of solidarity to the people of East Timor that there were some folks that were prepared to stand up for them."
The dual Australian and British national said he wasn't afraid of being deported.
"I'm tempted to say that I'd volunteer for deportation if it meant that the Australian Wheat Board's 12 executives, who were paying bribes to Saddam Hussein, get the punishment they deserve after being found guilty by a Royal Commission in 2005," he said.
"They were breaking international law and Australian law."