Dutton to get citizenship overrule powers under new laws


The Immigration Minister wants the Federal Government given the power to overrule tribunal decisions on citizenship matters because Australians are now living in a 'different age' than they were a decade ago.

Peter Dutton already has the option to veto the Administrative Appeals Tribunal’s decisions on select visa matters, but wants to extend that power under fresh reforms the Coalition plans to introduce to Parliament this week.

"It's not overruling any court, there's still the ability to go to the Federal Court," The Immigration Minister said.

"This is really just trying to align the arrangement in terms of citizenship with the laws that exist in relation to granting and cancelling visas now."

Mr Dutton said while the vast majority of people who become Australians are decent hardworking people, Australians are “living in a very different age than we were even five or ten years ago.”

“I'm disappointed that many people within the left of the Labor Party have automatically come out of the gates opposing what I think is a common sense change,” he added.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott agreed with the Immigration Minister that the tribunal changes present a test for Labor.

"Do they want properly accountable decisions or do they want the accountable elected politicians constantly being second-guessed by the unelected and unaccountable members of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal," Mr Abbott told 2GB's Ray Hadley.

He said members of the tribunal shouldn't have their contracts renewed if they made "bizarre" decisions.

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Opposition frontbencher Andrew Leigh says the party will go through its usual processes in deciding whether to back the broader citizenship measures.

But Dr Leigh criticised the government for not presenting any details since the announcement in April and says the idea of requiring a tougher English test is unexceptional.

"I don't mind the idea that the typical new citizen should have to speak English better than (Deputy Prime Minister) Barnaby Joyce," he told Sky News.

Abbott says 'more power to' Dutton


Greens Immigration spokesperson Nick McKim called the proposed changes xenophobic and unfair and said they are aimed at “undermining multicultural Australia".

"Bill Shorten's Labor MPs have a clear choice - support multiculturalism and the rule of law, or collapse in the face of xenophobic politics," Senator McKim said.

The legislation will extend permanent residency from one year to four before people can apply for citizenship, introduce a values test and will require people to demonstrate they have integrated into Australian society.

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