The Senate killed o proposed citizenship changes late last year but the government has not given up hope
of getting revised measures through parliament in the rst half of 2018. The new roll-out date for the
changes is 1 July.
“We’ve made a couple of changes based on the feedback we’ve received, and o the back of those changes,
we hope that it will go through the parliament,” Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Aairs Alan Tudge
told SBS News this week. “This bill is designed to ensure that new citizens have every chance to seize the
great opportunities which Australia has to oer, but they’ll only be able to seize those opportunities if they
have a basic understanding of English and if they’re integrated into the community.”
The Turnbull government’s plans were first announced in April 2017. They included making permanent
residents wait four years instead of one to apply for citizenship and requiring them to pass a university-level
English language test.
Tony Burke, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia, told SBS News: “As long as the
government is bringing back a proposal that is deliberately designed to prevent people who would make
good Australians from ever becoming citizens, then Labor’s going to stand opposed to it.”
“People approach me about citizenship more than any other issue and they say the fact that legislation was
defeated has given them hope,” he said.
What about those already in the queue? Without support in parliament, the government has admitted it will
need to make concessions to pass the legislation. Until then, all applications will continue to be assessed
under the current requirements. The crucial Nick Xenophon Team voting block has told SBS News it will not
budge unless the government promises to re-model its proposal so that it does not afect migrants who are
‘already in the queue’ and have obtained permanent residency.
NXT also wants plans to cap the number of times applicants can sit the citizenship test to be scrapped and
for English language requirements to be kept at the same level as they are now. Mr Tudge has conrmed to
SBS News the government is willing to reduce the English language requirements from ‘competent’ to
‘modest’ and make sure the changes do not aect people who have already lodged citizenship applications
before 1 July this year.
As for restrictions on the number of times applicants can sit the citizenship test, he hinted that there could
possibly be room to move on that too.
“We’re willing to take a look at that but at the end of the day we’ve put forward some sensible amendments
and we hope that these will go through the parliament now,” Mr Tudge said.