Australia: Peter Dutton pressures Labor to support Coalition’s citizenship crackdown | The Guardian

I don’t understand that what is announced as a change – from one to four years permanent residency before requirement – is actually a change from the current policy outlined on the Australian government website (Australian citizenship).

It will be interesting to see how they develop and implement a “values” test. The “integration” test – holding a job, sending kids to school, is more objective but has its own implementation challenges.

One can expect, just as occurred in Canada with policies designed to make “citizenship harder to get and easier to lose,” a drop in citizenship applications and new citizens, breaking the immigrant-to-citizen model:

The Turnbull government will unveil details this week of its planned changes to make it harder to get Australian citizenship.

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, will introduce legislation to parliament that extends permanent residency from one year to four before people can apply for citizenship, that toughens English language competencies, introduces a values test and requires people to demonstrate they have integrated into Australian society.

He has briefed Labor on the bill and has called on the opposition to support the bill through both houses.

“I think it’s an issue that requires bipartisan support,” Dutton said on Sunday. “I suspect we will get support of independent senators … there’s obviously negotiations to take place in that regard but this is an issue where we would want the Labor party to support the government.

“It is a bill that suits the times we’re living in and the government is very serious about making sure that people who pledge their allegiance to our country mean it, that they abide by our laws and our values.”

The overhaul of the citizenship process – which has been in gestation within the government for months – follows the Coalition’s move two months ago to overhaul skilled migration by replacing 457 visas with two new categories that cut off pathways to permanent residency.

In April, Malcolm Turnbull said it was time for a new citizenship test that demonstrated people’s allegiance to Australia and whether they were prepared to stand up for “Australian values”.

Asked to provide a summary of values he believed all Australians should sign up to, given that people were likely to have different views on that question, Turnbull nominated “mutual respect, democracy, freedom, rule of law … a fair go”.

Senior Labor figures expressed early scepticism about the proposal, including Labor’s Senate leader, Penny Wong, who said the proposed citizenship changes looked cosmetic and politically motivated.

But Dutton said on Sunday the citizenship changes were necessary.

He said a key component of the legislation would force people to stay as permanent residents for a longer time period before applying for citizenship. That would give them more time to demonstrate they had integrated into Australian society, through things like holding down a job or making sure their children went to school, he said.

It also allowed the government to consider people’s behaviour over a longer period before allowing them to become citizens, rather than just a “point-in-time snapshot”, he said.

Source: Peter Dutton pressures Labor to support Coalition’s citizenship crackdown | Australia news | The Guardian


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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