Leader of the Australian Greens, Richard Di Natale told SBS Radio in an exclusive interview at the FECCA conference in Darwin that his party would work with the Labor party to defeat the citizenship bill, scheduled to come before Senate next week.
On Monday, Labor party’s Tony Burke condemned the citizenship changes introduced by the government and demanded the Turnbull government immediately start processing citizenship applications under existing rules if its proposed changes fail to pass parliament.
"But let me say this - if the Senate does reject the government's legislation then the department must start processing every application and processing it immediately under the Australian law," he told the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia on Monday.
He also said, "The current changes proposed to Australian citizenship are the most direct attack on modern multicultural Australia since the abolition of the White Australia policy."
"If Labor are going to reject government’s citizenship changes, then absolutely we will work with them...e don’t accept it that government is going to make it harder for people to gain their citizenship based on such a high level of English language proficiency."
“If you come from Asia, you need university level English. If you come from England, you do not. If you come from Africa, you need university level English, if you come from North America, you do not. This does not represent modern Australia,” he told SBS Radio in Darwin.
On Tuesday, the leader of the Australian Greens, Richard Di Natale reacting to Burke’s statement said, “If Labor are going to reject government’s citizenship changes, then absolutely we will work with them.”
He also said, "the Greens have, from the moment the government put forward this legislation, said we don’t accept it. We don’t accept it that government is going to make it harder for people to gain their citizenship based on such a high level of English language proficiency."
He added, "it must be said that on number of (occasions), the Labor party has supported government legislation, whether it be, anti-terror legislation, be it treatment of people seeking asylum in this country, we are disappointed that there has been a bipartisan consensus that is really aimed at excluding people from this country, when we should be welcoming them.
"But if Labor is going to reject these citizenship changes, then absolutely we will work with them, to get them defeated.”
The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 will come before Senate next week.
The legislation is yet to become law however the government has said that citizenship applications will be backdated to 20 April, when the policy was announced.
Have you applied for Australian citizenship or affected by the changes to citizenship law? Write to us at Mosiqi.firstname.lastname@example.org