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Friday, 17 November 2017 16:58

Huge win for multicultural Australia

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Huge win for multicultural Australia

Every vote the Liberal Party tried to win back from Pauline Hanson has cost it a vote from multicultural Australia.

Controversial changes to the citizenship process have been voted down in the Senate, ending the Liberal Party’s push to impose stricter requirements on migrants. The reforms would have required would-be citizens to reside in Australia for four years, rather than one, made applicants take strict English-language and an “Australian value” tests, and given the Minister for Immigration personal veto powers over any citizenship application deemed not to be in the national interest.

The rejection of the bill by the Greens and the Australian Labor Party means this unfair law will not come into effect. People will not have to spend four years as a permanent resident or pass a separate English language test to become an Aussie citizen.

With the failure of the law people can once again apply for Australian citizenship after living in Australia for 4 years in total with 2 year as a permanent resident.

Greens immigration spokesperson Nick McKim called the vote “a huge win for multicultural Australia”, while Nick Xenophon Team Senator Stirling Griff said concessions offered by the Liberal Party to water down the English-language requirements were “not sufficient” to win over the NXT. Shadow immigration minister Tony Burke urged migrants celebrating the outcome vote to apply for citizenship while they could, as “this government will try again”.

Retrospective changes unfair

The obvious unfairness in the Liberal Party’s proposed legislation was to make these changes retrospective, that is, to back date the changes to the date of the press release on 20 April 2017, and to apply the new rules as if the legislation had passed the Parliament.

Immediately after the changes were announced, the Department of Immigration acting on behalf of the Liberal Government, prevented people from applying for citizenship through the on-line application portal if they did not meet the new rules. This meant that people who met the old rules and who had lived in Australia for four years including one year as a permanent resident could not apply for citizenship.

Sometime later, and after significant protest, the Department quietly restored the ability of people to apply under the old rules. However, the Department of Immigration then stopped processing those applications pending the passage of the new legislation. The obvious result is that a severe back log of applications has built up in the system that will take some time to clear.

The Department has now re-commenced processing applications under the old rules, and if you have an application in the system or are intending to apply, the system is once again moving forward. 

 

Our View

While the Australian Government can make the changes it thinks appropriate to the citizenship rules, these changes should be prospective, applying only to people who are granted permanent residence after the date the Parliament approves the new rule.  To apply the law retrospectively is unfair on people who have moved to Australia in good faith under one set of rules and who have a legitimate expectation that the ground will not be shifted from underneath their feet half way through the journey.

In VisAustralia’s view this is not a legitimate way to run the migration program. Retrospective changes to the law affects the rights of people who have made decisions and spent money based on a particular set of rules. To change the rules retrospectively is incompetent, unnecessary and unfair.

Australian citizenship is an important final destination for many migrants and the sense of arrival after an arduous journey is not something that should be altered without proper consultation or due process.

If the Liberal Party wants to make changes to attract votes from Pauline Hanson, and it still does so be careful, VisAustralia would at least expect the changes to apply after the date legislation is passed and is law, and not before.

 
Read 4988 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 April 2018 01:18

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