Government’s University Level Citizenship Test Bill gets condemning report

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has released its report in to the Government’s proposed citizenship changes to the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017.

Labor’s major concerns in this legislation are:

  • the requirement for new citizens to be able to speak university level English and;
  • the extended delay for Permanent Residents.

The committee which is Chaired by Liberal MP Mr Ian Goodenough and includes the members Mr Graham Perrett MP (Labor), Mr Russell Broadbent MP (Liberal), Senator Carol Brown (Labor), Ms Madeleine King MP (Labor), Mr Julian Leeser MP(Liberal), Senator Nick McKim (Greens), Senator Claire Moore (Labor), Senator James Paterson (Liberal) and Senator Linda Reynolds (Liberal).

The Committee sought additional advice from Peter Dutton when scrutinising the Bill and found in regard to the proposed university level English test “the measure appears likely to be incompatible with the right to equality and non-discrimination.”

The report also confirms Labor’s questions around the evidence base and rationale provided by the Government to justify the unfair measures, stating that some outcomes could be adverse to social cohesion and  “concerns remain that the measure may not be rationally connected to its stated objective.”

Labor supports people living in Australia being helped to speak English and the existing citizenship test is already in English. Requiring university level English is snobbery, it sends a message to every single Australian who doesn’t have university entrance qualifications that the Australian Government, if given the choice, would prefer those Australians were not here.

The extension of the permanent residency requirement is of great concern to Labor. It extends the permanent residency requirement from one year to four years. We don’t see how this delay can be good for migrant families.

The Government is trying to claim that this is a national security issue. This is absurd – people applying for citizenship are already living in Australia permanently and their entry has been subject to strict character and security background checks. If they were a security risk then they would have not been granted permanent residency in the first instance.

Tony Burke has a petition on his website which has over 40,000 signatures on it from communities around Australia who are also opposed to these changes.

The report released today is the second parliamentary report to raise concerns about the Bill.

The Senate Inquiry into the Bill previously raised concerns about this Bill. The report of the Senate Inquiry hearings can be found here:

Labor’s report can be found here:

It’s clear it was policy on the run by Peter Dutton  that should be scrapped.

Short URL: