Changes Taking place in Australian Citizenship
The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenshipand Other Measures) Bill 2017 is presently staging a comeback. Moreover, it gets a priority status by the Home Affairs department and is likely to be introduced in the Parliament during this month.
Senator Nick McKim has raised the matter in the Senate Estimates hearing of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. In the reply the Deputy Secretary of Policy, said that the bill will get the priority status. It will be introduced in the winter session. There will be a session in June but the bill so far there is no listing of it on the notice paper of Senate Business. The timing to introduce it is a Governmental matter.
Opposition to the Bill
Senator McKim, opposes the bill, said that he could not see a copy of the new legislation but will oppose the proposed changes which make it difficult for immigrants to become citizens. He also plans to work with other Senators and block it in the Parliament.
Last year, the government attempted to pass the bill but could not succeed owing to stiff opposition from various quarters. The legislation aims to make many changes in citizenship requirements. These include altering the period of PR from one year to four years, a modest requirement in English language, a new values test, and strong character checks.
Aspiring citizens will need to show that they can integrate well into the community, and behave in a consistent manner with the Australian values.
The amended bill makes the waiting period longer and has tough eligibility norms for migrants. It was defeated when the government did not meet the deadline in the Senate. The fresh requirements were published on the website of Home Affairs but were withdrawn recently.
A spokesperson of the Home Affairs Department had no explanation regarding the reason for taking it down but added that the required Information on the changes in citizenship requirements will be provided on the website.
Migrants happy at the status of the bill
Migrants got a reprieve because of the present status of the citizenship bill . There are more than 200,000 citizenship applications which await the outcome. This is an alarming number.
On 30th April the number of citizenship applications for conferring is 209,826, as per the statement of a member of Home Affairs Department, which he gave to the Senate Estimates Hearing.
Moreover the Senator Nick McKim, has called these changes to be hateful and divisive. The department has not allocated adequate resources to process the pending applications. Getting citizenship is difficult and takes much time which the government needs to simplify, he concluded.