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Four-year period before citizenship will help improve English: Peter Dutton

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton Source: SBS

Dutton says four years will allow permanent residency visa holders to improve their English with help of support available in Australia.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton was on ABC Radio this morning and talked about the stringent requirement of having ‘competent’ English in order to be eligible to apply for citizenship.

When questioned by the reporter, how many people who currently sit for citizenship would pass the new English requirement, Mr Dutton said, “for some people, achieving basic at the moment is a difficulty and there's no question about that, and we think that is a great deficiency in the system.”

The basic requirement he referred to is achieving ‘band 5’ on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

He says moving the requirement from ‘band five’ to ‘band six’ on a scale of one to nine, is to ensure that they integrate better into Australian society.

He said, “We do know that if people can improve their English language, then they will integrate better into Australian society.”

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He said increasing the requirement of having lived in Australia on permanent residency visa from one year to four years, will help people to improve their English language skills.

He told ABC Radio, “But by expanding from one year out to four years the period that people need to be permanent residents before they become Australian citizens, we believe that they can improve their English language skills.” 

He said a lot of help and support was being made available to improve English skills.

“People have the ability through communities to increase their English language competency over that period.”

“Well, if people take the opportunities that are available to them - and over the course of the four years, they know that at the end this is the language test and this is the requirement to pass - then people will improve their skills.”

In the interview, he also said that having greater English capacity helps in getting better jobs, do better at school and makes sure that they integrate into society. 

SBS Hindi has received several representations from people affected by these changes. 

Rasheed Khan, a PhD Student at School of Information Systems, Technology and Management at UNSW Australia says the proposed English language requirement is completely redundant.

"I had already provided IELTS score that is why I was granted PR. Living, studying and working in Australia has only improved my English ability not reduced it. Why then ask for IELTS again? It will only be justified if the Government has lost complete faith in Australian institutions. I am happy to sit IELTS test every week if that is the only way to prove my “Australian-ness” but I will not pay for it. And also by questioning my English again and again, you are only making me feel less of an Australian due to this discriminatory behaviour. This is not an attempt to help me integrate but clearly an attempt to alienate." 

The proposed changes to Australia's citizenship laws were introduced to parliament last week. Labor party has decided to oppose these changes on Tuesday morning. 

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