Migrants, who are already in Australia and are seeking to secure Australian citizenship, have been dragged into an ugly political battle as major parties argue over new laws.
Labor has accused the administration of snobbery, particularly in the English test requirements required for migrants to attend university. It has vowed to oppose the tougher laws to acquiring Australian citizenship.
Stricter Citizenship Bill “Massive Over-Reach”
On Tuesday last week, labor MPs have unanimously agreed to reject the coalition’s calls for bipartisanship on legislation over the fact that parliament is forcing migrants to sit stand-alone English tests prior to citizenship.
Senator Nick Xenophone expressed doubts about the English language requirements being necessary for Australia’s safety. “I support the government in ensuring that we have an orderly migration program, that we control our borders, but I don’t think we should have a punitive test,” he told reporters.
In addition, the government wants to increase the minimum permanent residency period to four years instead of one. This is on top of the new values test and stronger character checks.
According to Labor, these citizenship changes are “a massive over-reach” and have nothing to do with national security, as claimed by the government.
“If there is a national security problem for migrants, then why does the government have them living here permanently” said frontbencher Tony Burke.
Burke added that the proposed legislation could be used by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who is pushing the proposed legislation, in his ambition to become Prime Minister.
An “Over Reaction”
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was aghast at the opposition’s reaction to the bill.
“Does this member imagine for one minute an integrated society, a harmonious society, one based on shared values and mutual respect … has nothing to do with security? It is the very foundation of it.” Turnbull’s response to Burke’s suggestion.
Dutton, on the other hand, is confident that they can get the bill to Senate. Dutton also believes that Labor will change their position later on.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan says the bill is meant to weed out bad eggs to prevent incidents similar to the deadly Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney.
“The system in the way it’s operated in the past has been far too generous to people and what we’ve had when there’s been red flags raised is the system essentially just gave them the benefit of the doubt consistently.” explained Keenan.
The Federal Government will need the support of minor parties to get is citizenship changes through Parliament but it looks like they’re not getting it from the Labor Party.
Another Crossbench Negotiation
With opposition from the Labor Party, the Government will now have to turn its attention to the Senate crossbench to get through parliament.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson has previously said her party would back the changes. However, she wants permanent residents to wait for at least eight years before being permitted to apply for citizenship.
Nick Xenophon has also said he is open to backing the legislation but he did not want to see “punitive” English language tests.
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