Australian senator who denied knowing about Canadian citizenship makes suspicious, Canadian-like apology – The Beaverton

A funny, satirical take – sorry for sharing:

An Australian senator who announced her resignation after discovering her dual-citizenship has made a very suspicious, Canadian-sounding apology.

Green MP claimed that she was unaware that she was still a Canadian citizen, but issued two apologies in one statement along with some very nice compliments about the constituents she has served.

“I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have,” said the Winnipeg-born Waters which raised many eyebrows among members of the press. “I apologise wholeheartedly to all those who have supported me and helped me to become a representative for the wonderful people of Queensland over the last six years.”

The politician known around the world for being the first woman to breastfeed in Australia’s Parliament has simultaneously renounced and reaffirmed her Canadian roots with the statement.

“If she actually didn’t know she was Canadian and didn’t intend to deceive anyone and violate section 44 of the constitution, she wouldn’t need to apologize,” explained Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s political analyst Louise Yaxley. “And saying you’re sorry for little or no reason is a very Canadian thing to do.”

In addition to her apologies, Waters continued to deny that she had any knowledge about her foreign identity despite being a strong supporter public health care, 52-week paternity leave, and asserting a smug superiority when compared to Americans.

At press time, Waters had already apologized for apologizing too much.

Source: Australian senator who denied knowing about Canadian citizenship makes suspicious, Canadian-like apology – The Beaverton

Australian senator steps down because of dual Canadian citizenship

While a rule against dual citizenship for elected officials can be justified, this case highlights the absurdity of its formal application given that she left Canada when she was less than a year old and was caught by a Canadian rule change.

She does, of course, have the option of renouncing her Canadian citizenship but the process takes some time (don’t know how long but, if the example of Texas senator Ted Cruz is any indication, more than a few months).

Surprising, however, that she did not indicate her intent to renounce:

An Australian senator has been forced to step down because she is a dual citizen of Australia and Canada.

The Australian constitution disqualifies potential candidates from seeking election if they hold dual or plural citizenship.

Larissa Waters, who was also the deputy leader of the Green party, told a news conference Monday that was only found out about her status on Monday with “great shock and sadness.”

Waters was born to Australian parents in 1977 while they were studying and working in Winnipeg.

She left Canada as an 11-month-old baby and said she always believed she was just Australian.

Water said she also didn’t know she had to renounce the Canadian citizenship that was bestowed upon her at birth.

“I had not renounced since I was unaware that I was a dual citizen. Obviously this is something that I should have sought advice on when I first nominated for the Senate in 2007,” said Waters in a statement.

“I take full responsibility for this grave mistake and oversight. I am deeply sorry for the impact that it will have.”

Waters said she only discovered her status on Monday after seeking legal advice in the wake of fellow Green party member Scott Ludlam having to step down because he holds dual citizenship with New Zealand.

Waters said she was “devastated” to learn she was a Canadian citizen and has resigned from office “with a heavy heart.”

“I have lived my life thinking that as a baby I was naturalized to be Australian and only Australian, and my parents told me that I had until age 21 to actively seek Canadian citizenship,” said Waters.

“At 21, I chose not to seek dual citizenship, and I have never even visited Canada since leaving at 11 months old.”

Waters made international headlines earlier this year when she became the first woman to breastfeed her daughter, Alia, on the floor of the Australian Parliament.

Australian media reports say Waters was seen by some as a future leader of the Green party.

Source: Australian senator steps down because of dual Canadian citizenship – The Globe and Mail

Australian senator quits over New Zealand dual citizenship – BBC News

May explain in part relatively low levels of diversity among Australian politicians although I suspect other factors more important:

An Australian senator has resigned after realising he holds dual citizenship, meaning his nine-year parliamentary career most likely breached the nation’s constitution.

Scott Ludlam, from the minor Greens party, said he only learned of his New Zealand citizenship last week.

Under Australia’s constitution, a person cannot run for federal office if they hold dual or plural citizenship.

Mr Ludlam had been told his eligibility would be challenged in court.

The senator, who was also Greens co-deputy leader, apologised for what he called an “avoidable oversight”.

Source: Australian senator quits over New Zealand dual citizenship – BBC News

Islamic experts work towards national religious school curriculum to apply faith to modern Australian life – ABC News

Interesting and challenging initiative, one that applies to many faith-based schooling:

A new high school curriculum will help young people realise there’s no conflict between following Islam and being raised Australian, despite an atmosphere of Islamaphobia, according to young student Gaida Merei.

Ms Merei was part of the pilot program of what will eventually become a national syllabus for Islamic and Arabic studies.

She said young Muslims often find themselves questioning their identity because they don’t have the answers to questions about their faith that are raised in the news.

“It makes them makes you feel like you’re constantly being attacked,” Ms Merei said.

“It could make them [young Muslims] question their belonging and negatively impact the way they view their role in society and whether their contribution has value.”

She said the pilot program gave her a confidence boost.

“It meant I could embrace my identity a lot more confidently, and confirmed that just because I followed the faith, it didn’t conflict with being raised Australian.”

Experts work toward creating national curriculum

Currently, Australian Islamic schools use approved curriculum for core subjects such as maths, science and English, but there is no cohesive religious studies or Arabic program.

In an attempt to change that, leading experts in Islamic education from around the globe are meeting in South Australia to look at creating a standardised national Islamic studies curriculum that would become the first in the western world.

The two-day conference brings together international experts from New Zealand, Indonesia, North America amongst others to discuss a renewed approach to teaching in Islamic schools.

For the last couple of years several Islamic schools have been in the spotlight for governance concerns.

Centre for Islamic Thought and Education, Professor Mohamad Abdalla, said these issues shed light on the need for Islamic schools to re-evaluate future direction.

As part of the conference agenda academics and policy specialist will look at creating a learning program relevant to a modern-day Australian context.

Professor Abdalla said that’s something current Islamic studies in schools lack.

“Given the [political] climate, young Australians may feel they don’t belong to this country, Islamic studies could empower them to feel confident,” he said.

How to applying faith to modern Australia

Ms Merei said from her experiences of attending an Islamic school, students are missing out on education relevant to their lives in Australia.

“The way the religion is followed and applied in modern Australia will differ to the way it is followed in countries in the Middle East or Europe or Asia,” she said.

“It seems like religious teachers force their understanding of the faith from overseas onto young Australians not understanding the issues and struggles we face are extremely different.”

The course explored often misunderstood topics of sharia, women in Islam, terrorism and identity.

Ms Merei said she missed out on learning about these subjects at the Islamic school she attended and now understands the value of learning about them from a credible source.

“They can properly engage in debate and discussion with people who have different understandings and perspectives.

“They’ll be less frustrated when questioned on these topics because they can actually respond.”

She said in today’s world self-proclaimed scholars are brainwashing young people who have little understanding of their faith.

Ms Merei said having a basic understanding of these topics would empower them to see through their politically motivated propaganda.

Professor Abdalla said an Australian curriculum was expected to be ready in the next two to three years.

Source: Islamic experts work towards national religious school curriculum to apply faith to modern Australian life – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Australia – Multicultural voices deserve to be heard: Tim Soutphommasane responds to ‘Go back to Laos’ comments 

 More nasty Australian discourse:

Source: Multicultural voices deserve to be heard: Tim Soutphommasane responds to ‘Go back to Laos’ comments | SBS News

Claims Australian politics and media are ‘too Anglo’ | Daily Mail Online

Interesting no comments on political representation, where Australia’s numbers are poor for visible minorities:

The Australian Human Rights Commission has called for more ‘cultural diversity’ in politics and the media because both are currently dominated by ‘Anglo-Celtics’.

In a submission to a Senate committee looking at ‘Strengthening Multiculturalism’, the AHRC urged the government to create a federal agency to collect data and report on diversity within leadership positions.

‘While Australia is highly socially mobile, there is an underrepresentation of cultural diversity in positions of leadership, as well as in the media,’ the AHRC said.

The Australian Human Rights Commission has called for more ‘cultural diversity’ in Australian leadership positions because the default currently remains Anglo-Celtic

The AHRC has urged the federal government to create a federal agency to collect data and report on diversity within leadership positions. Pictured, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

‘The Commission believes that increasing cultural diversity in leadership and in the media would strengthen Australia’s multiculturalism.

‘A lack of diversity in leadership and in the media could conceivably lead to a perception of what it is to be ‘Australian’ that does not reflect our multicultural character.’

The AHRC noted ‘The ethnic and cultural default of leadership remains Anglo-Celtic’ and warned the nation ‘may not be making the most of its cultural diversity’.

Their submission also quoted a study carried out by Screen Australia which found non-Anglo-Celtic groups were being underrepresented on national television dramas.

Source: Claims Australian politics and media are ‘too Anglo’ | Daily Mail Online

Link to submission: (PDF 230 KB)

Australia: Peter Dutton is using citizenship laws to campaign for Liberal leadership, Labor says | The Guardian

Daily Australian citizenship debate news following Labor’s refusal to back the proposed changes:

Labor has accused the immigration minister, Peter Dutton, of using changes to Australia’s citizenship laws as a campaign for the Liberal leadership and has confirmed it will oppose the package.

The Labor caucus on Tuesday morning signed off on a recommendation to block the government’s citizenship changes, which the shadow minister for citizenship and multiculturalism, Tony Burke, described as a “massive overreach”.

Burke told reporters the government’s legislation took some steps, “which, put simply, Australia should never take – and are inconsistent with who we are as a country”.

Labor’s decision to reject the package followed the ventilation of strong concerns internally from MPs from both the right and left factions about core elements of the changes, including the new English language test and residency requirements.

The government, which has attempted to elevate the proposed changes to a national security issue, leapt on Labor’s opposition.

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, declared Labor “does not value Australian citizenship enough to say, as we do, that it must be more than simply the outcome of an administrative tick and flick form-filling process”.

Turnbull said the title, and the role of Australian citizen, “is the most important in our democracy”.

“Surely we care enough about our democracy, about citizenship, to say that it should be given, granted to people who make a commitment to our nation and share our values”.

The immigration minister, Peter Dutton, said the decision showed the Labor leader, Bill Shorten, was being “monstered” by his party’s left faction.

“This demonstrates to all Australians that Labor is completely divided on the citizenship bill.”

He said would-be citizens needed to “abide by Australian laws, to abide by Australian values”.

Burke said Labor had taken the decision to reject the proposal unanimously because core elements of the package were deeply unacceptable.

He said the proposed language test required a university level grasp of English and “what sort of snobbery leads a government to say, unless you reach a university level of English, we’d rather you weren’t here?”

Burke said if there was “a national security problem” for people in the country already living as permanent residents, “then why on earth does the government have them already living here permanently?”

“It is a leadership campaign for Peter Dutton,” Burke said Tuesday. “It is a very silly game, and a very dangerous game, because he is not just playing with some random law here or there, he is talking about the thing that defines who we are as a nation.

“You don’t play games with that”.

The government will now have to rely on crossbench votes to pursue the citizenship package and Dutton told parliament the government did not intend to “back down”.

The proposal the government is seeking to legislate extends permanent residency requirements from one year to “at least four years” before someone can apply for citizenship and requires most applicants to provide evidence of “competent” English-language proficiency before they can become a citizen.

It would also give the immigration minister power to overrule decisions on citizenship applications by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if the minister doesn’t think the decisions are in the national interest, and also give the minister power to decide whether or not the applicant has integrated into the Australian community.

Labor proposes to send the legislation to a Senate inquiry.

Burke said on Tuesday if that inquiry threw up “sensible changes”, which could be considered calmly, then the government could bring forward a new package and Labor would look at it.

Source: Peter Dutton is using citizenship laws to campaign for Liberal leadership, Labor says | Australia news | The Guardian

Australia: Dumped Abbott-era changes resurface in Turnbull government’s citizenship bill

I had always thought that Australia granted birthright citizenship but apparently it does not, with these further restrictions moving it more distinct than the Canadian approach. Also surprised that citizenship had been granted to children of diplomats – not the case in Canada:

A crackdown on citizenship rights for children of migrants and foreign diplomats is among a number of dumped Tony Abbott-era proposals to have resurfaced in the Turnbull government’s citizenship revamp.

The government says the restrictions are necessary to stop parents using their children’s citizenship “as an anchor for family migration” or to win sympathy in their own migration disputes.

Under the proposed changes, children will no longer become citizens on their 10th birthday if, at any point, they were present in Australia unlawfully or re-entered Australia without a valid visa.

The same will also apply if a child’s parent lacked a “substantive” visa at the time of the child’s birth and was present in Australia unlawfully prior to the birth. That means a child born to parents on bridging visas would not automatically acquire citizenship.

And children born to foreign diplomats will no longer gain Australian citizenship on their 10th birthday.

However, the immigration department confirmed to Fairfax Media that in each case, if one of the child’s parents was an Australian citizen or permanent resident, the child would acquire citizenship in the normal way.

Source: Dumped Abbott-era changes resurface in Turnbull government’s citizenship bill

Australia: Coalition’s test likely to disadvantage those who need citizenship most | The Guardian

As the Australian government proceeds with its changes, the same issues raised by refugee advocates as in C-24:

Citizenship applicants will need to demonstrate a higher level of English proficiency if the government’s proposed changes to the Australian citizenship test go ahead.

Applicants will be required to reach the equivalent of Band 6 proficiency of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

To achieve Band 6, applicants must correctly answer 30 out of 40 questions in the reading paper, 23 out of 40 in the listening paper and the writing paper rewards language used “accurately and appropriately”. If a candidate’s writing has “frequent” inaccuracies in grammar and spelling, they cannot achieve Band 6.

Success in IELTS requires proficiency in both the English language and also understanding how to take – and pass – a test. The proposed changes will then make it harder for people with fragmented educational backgrounds to become citizens, such as many refugees.

How do the tests now work?

The current citizenship test consists of 20 multiple choice questions in English that ask about Australia’s political system, history and citizen responsibilities.

While the test does not require demonstration of English proficiency per se, it acts as an indirect assessment of language.

For example, the question “Which official symbol of Australia identifies commonwealth property?” demonstrates the level of linguistic complexity required.

The IELTS test is commonly taken for immigration purposes as a requirement for certain visa categories; however, the designer of the IELTS argues that it was never designed for this purpose. Researchers have argued that the growing strength of English as the language of politics and economics has resulted in its widespread use for immigration purposes.

Impact of proposed changes

English is undoubtedly important for participation in society but deciding citizenship based on a high-stakes language test could further marginalise community members, such as people with refugee backgrounds who have the greatest need for citizenship yet lack the formal educational background to navigate such tests.

The Refugee Council of Australia argues that adults with refugee backgrounds will be hardest hit by the proposed language test.

Data shows that refugees are both more likely to apply for citizenship and twice as likely as other migrant groups to have to retake the test.

Mismatched proficiency expectations

The adult migrant English program, where many adult refugees access English learning upon arrival, expects only a “functional” level of language proficiency.

For many adult refugees – who have minimal first language literacy, fragmented educational experiences and limited opportunities to gain feedback on their written English – “competency” may be prohibitive to gaining citizenship. This is also more likely to impact refugee women, who are less likely to have had formal schooling and more likely to assume caring duties.

Bar too high?

The challenges faced in resettlement, such as pressures of work and financial responsibilities to extended family, often combine to make learning a language difficult and, by extension, prevent refugees from completing the citizenship test.

Similar patterns are evident with the IELTS. Nearly half of Arabic speakers who took the IELTS in 2015 scored lower than Band 6.

There are a number of questions to clarify regarding the proposed language proficiency test:

  • Will those dealing with trauma-related experiences gain exemption from a high-stakes, time-pressured examination?
  • What support will be provided to help applicants study for the test?
  • Will financially disadvantaged members of the community be expected to pay for classes and materials to prepare for the citizenship test?
  • The IELTS test costs $330, with no subsidies available. Will the IELTS-based citizenship/language test attract similar fees?

There are also questions about the fairness of requiring applicants to demonstrate a specific type and level of English under examination conditions that is not required of all citizens. Those born in Australia are not required to pass an academic test of language to retain their citizenship.

Recognising diversity of experiences

There are a few things the government should consider before introducing a language test:

1. Community consultation is essential. Input from community/migrant groups, educators and language assessment specialists will ensure that the test functions as a valid evaluation of progression towards English language proficiency. The government is now calling for submissionsrelated to the new citizenship test.

2. Design the test to value different forms and varieties of English that demonstrate progression in learning rather than adherence to prescriptive standards.

3. Provide educational opportunities that build on existing linguistic strengths that help people to prepare for the test.

Equating a particular type of language proficiency with a commitment to Australian citizenship is a complex and ideologically loaded notion. The government must engage in careful consideration before potentially further disadvantaging those most in need of citizenship.

Source: Coalition’s test likely to disadvantage those who need citizenship most | Sally Baker and Rachel Burke | Australia news | The Guardian

Australia: Labor disputes Peter Dutton’s claim party was briefed on citizenship changes

The politics are fascinating (policy not so much).

Not releasing the results of the consultations (Australia: Feedback on controversial citizenship changes to be kept secret) and now Labour contesting the degree of consultations …:

The shadow minister for citizenship, Tony Burke, has accused Peter Dutton of misleading journalists about having properly briefed Labor on the government’s proposed changes to citizenship laws.

Dutton, the immigration minister, announced on Sunday he would introduce legislation to parliament this week that made it harder to get Australian citizenship.

He said the Turnbull government wanted to toughen English language competencies, introduce a values test, extend the amount of time before permanent residents could apply for citizenship, and require people to demonstrate they had integrated into Australian society.

He called on Labor to support the legislation, and said Labor had been briefed on the bill.

“The Labor party will receive a copy of the bill this week,” he said on Sunday. “They’ve already had a briefing in relation to the bill.”

On Monday, Dutton then announced the legislation would give him power to overrule decisions by the Administrative Appeal Tribunalon citizenship applications that he didn’t think were in Australia’s national interest.

He called on Labor to support the bill again.

“It won’t pass through the Senate unless we can get Labor’s support, so that’s the key objective for this week, to speak with the Labor party,” he told Sky News.

“They’ve already had a briefing in relation to many of these matters and once they’ve seen the legislation this week they can ask questions.”

Labour response

But Burke said on Tuesday that Labor hadn’t been briefed on the policy details that appeared in media reports over the last couple of days.

He said the last briefing Labor received was before the 9 May budget, over a month ago.

“I was given a briefing on the 8th of May,” Burke said. “Was I briefed on the issues of the citizenship changes that were in the papers on the weekend? No, not at all. That’s all new. None of that existed as part of the proposal at the time of the briefing.

“[During that briefing], when I asked which parts of what I was being briefed on the government was committed to, the answer was none.

“When I asked, on the English-language test, how many people who currently apply for citizenship would pass the test, the government didn’t know.

“When I asked how many Australians would pass the test at a university level, the government didn’t know.

“Today I see in the papers, a claim that it is somehow linked to national security … once again, we’ve got changes here that have appeared in the paper that weren’t part of the briefing, that weren’t part of the government’s original proposal,” he said.