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Senate inquiry makes four recommendations to citizenship changes

Source: AAP

Lower English language requirements, allow those who were permanent residents before the April 20th announcement to apply for citizenship under old rules, reconsider the imposition of a two-year ban on applications for citizenship following three failed attempts of the citizenship test and that Senate pass the bill are four recommendations made in the report tabled in parliament on Tuesday night.

A parliamentary senate committee on Tuesday made four recommendations on the government’s planned citizenship changes.

Lower English language requirements, allow those who were permanent residents before the April 20th announcement to apply for citizenship under old rules, reconsider the imposition of a two-year ban on applications for citizenship following three failed attempts of the citizenship test and that Senate pass the bill are four recommendations made in the report tabled in parliament on Tuesday night.

Recommendation 1: ENGLISH LANGUAGE REQUIREMENTS

The senate committee headed by Coalition senator Ian Macdonald on Tuesday in a report suggested the new English language test ‘should not be so high as to disqualify from citizenship many Australians who, in the past, and with a more basic competency in the English language, have proven to be valuable members of the Australian community’.

Despite opposition from Labor, Greens and Nick Xenophon Team, who severely criticised and opposed the English language requirements, the committee found that a good understanding of the English language is essential to fulfill the obligations of Australian citizenship, but cautioned against ‘the adoption of a standard that many current citizens could not reach’.

Recommendation 2: CITIZENSHIP TEST

The committee recommended the government reconsider plans to impose a ban on applications for people who fail the citizenship test three times.

It has suggested additional tests should be allowed on a cost-recovery basis instead, which it believes would still deter less-genuine applicants.

Recommendation 3: WAIT FOR FOUR YEARS ON PERMANENT RESIDENCY

The committee has recommended that migrants who were already permanent residents before government’s April 20 announcement be allowed to apply for citizenship under the old rules instead of being forced to wait an extra three years.

Recommendation 4: PASS THE BILL

The fourth and last recommendation made by the committee was that the Senate pass the bill.

'BAN THE BILL'

Atul Vidhata, a permanent resident who has studied and lived in Australia for over 10 years ‘appreciates’ the recommendations made by the committee but is equally surprised that ‘despite overwhelming evidence of dissent in the submissions made to the inquiry committee’, the senate committee still recommends that the senate should pass the bill.

“The bill should not go through. Ban the bill,” Vidhata, who works as a lawyer and has campaigned against these changes through the Strategic Campaign towards a Fair Go for Australian Citizenship forum, told SBS Hindi.

Vidhata says “despite the fact that the citizenship reforms are not yet law, they have retrospectively enforced it. A bill is a recommendation, ‘an idea’ which cannot be enforced till it is law. As migrants, we do not want an easy go, but we want a fair go.”

Will this bill pass the senate?

Labor senators, Greens senators and the Nick Xenophon Team in their submissions before the committee have opposed the changes.

A spokesperson for the Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, told SBS World News the government is discussing the bill with the crossbenchers as is normally the case.

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