Citizenship Changes Dumped By Senate

14:03' 26-10-2017
A bill containing controversial changes to Australias citizenship requirements, proposed by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in April, have failed to pass the Senate. This leaves Australias citizenship requirements unchanged for the moment.

    Kết quả hình ảnh cho Australia's citizenship requirements

    Photo: abc.net.au

    The reforms, said to be important to Australia's security, included:

    • A tougher English test
    • Applicants must live in Australia as a permanent resident for at least four years (instead of one year)
    • New questions to assess an applicant’s understanding of Australia's shared values, including attitudes to child marriage and domestic violence
    • Limiting the number of times an applicant can fail the test to three

    The tougher English requirements would not apply to people from the UK, US, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand. The only other exceptions to the changes were for applicants under 16 and over 60 years old, and people with certain disabilities.

    The changes would also apply from the announcement date. In other words, more than 118,000 migrants currently resident in Australia, waiting for their citizenship applications to be processed, must also wait four years.

    Needless to say, the news caused a great deal of worry and anxiety in the migrant community. Many people, inside and outside that community, expressed concern that the new restrictions would discourage skilled migrants, who would have reason to doubt their career security and prospects.

    The language restriction drew outrage from all quarters. The general feeling was that it was unfair to newcomers, who may be refugees, to meet high standards in a new language. A migrant seeking a peaceful life, and wishing to contribute to Australian society, might fail the test with poor English. However, a violent criminal with a University-level education, but no known criminal record, could pass.

    A Senate inquiry, called for by Labor in June, received more than 13,000 submissions on the bill. In September it recommended that the new language requirements be lowered, and that migrants who were already permanent residents should not be forced to wait an extra three years to apply.

    Mr Dutton accepted the recommendations, but it was not enough to get the bill passed. Labor and the Greens announced their opposition to the bill early. This meant the Government relied on the Nick Xenophon Team’s three Senate votes to get it passed. NXT leader Mr Xenophon refused to give that support.

    In September the Greens had successfully passed a motion to set an 18 October deadline for the bill to be debated in the Senate. Without the NXT support, the government allowed the deadline to go by, so the bill was scrapped.

    The same thing happened with a similar bill, proposed two years ago by then Immigration Minister Scott Morrison. Mr Dutton has said the government will redraft its citizenship reforms and try again to pass them through the Senate.

    The Department of Immigration has since reported it received a rush of applications for Australian citizenship in the week following the collapse of the bill.

    Meng S

     

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Keywords: australiacitizenship requirementspeter dutton

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