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Australian citizenship changes back on agenda

Australian citizenship Source: AAP

The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill is back.

The citizenship changes are back on government’s agenda with government listing the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 for introduction and passage in the coming spring session of the Parliament.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has released the list of legislations proposed for introduction in the upcoming spring sittings beginning Monday, August 13th.

The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill has been proposed for introduction and passage in the spring sittings.

The purpose of the Bill is to "implement a package of reforms designed to strengthen the requirements to become and remain an Australian citizen, including in relation to residency, English language, Australian values, integration into the Australian community and good character,” the list reads.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull poses with new Australian citizens in Canberra
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull poses with new Australian citizens at an Australia Day Citizenship Ceremony and Flag Raising event in Canberra 2018
AAP

"Citizenship changes a priority"

SBS Hindi earlier reported the bill has been assigned ‘a priority status’ by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s department.

At the Senate Estimates hearing of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in May this year, the Department of Home Affairs Deputy Secretary of Policy, Ms Linda Geddes said the bill had been assigned ‘a priority status.’  

Last year, the Turnbull government’s first attempt to pass the bill failed after staunch opposition from Labor, the Greens, and the Nick Xenophon Team.

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The legislation makes several changes to citizenship requirements.

They include changing the period of permanent residency from one year to four, a modest English language requirement, a new values test, and stronger character checks.

Potential citizens will also need to demonstrate their integration into the community, including by "behaving in a manner consistent with Australian values".

The amended bill, which makes the wait longer and eligibility tougher for migrants, was struck down after the government missed the deadline in the Senate, thus striking off the bill by default on October 18th, 2017.

Australia's Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton
AAP

Over 200,000 citizenship applications awaiting an outcome

The citizenship backlog reached alarming levels after the changes were announced in April 2017.

Till April this year, more than 200,000 applicants were awaiting the outcome of their applications.

“The number of citizenship applications on hand as at 30 April for conferral is 209,826,” a member of the Home Affairs Department told the Senate Estimates Hearing in May.

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