Inquiry calls for reworked citizenship law

The Turnbull government's proposed language test for would-be citizens should be made easier, a coalition-dominated inquiry said.

A coalition-dominated Senate committee has recommended watering down a controversial English language test as part of the government's proposed overhaul of citizenship laws.

The report, tabled in parliament on Tuesday, recommends the government lower the standard of the test and reconsider a proposed two-year ban for three failed attempts.

The prime minister announced the overhaul on April 20, with the new measures to be applied from that date.

But the report recommends a transition period for people who held permanent residency visas on or before April 20, with current laws to apply to them.

The new laws would also increase the waiting time from one year to four years for permanent residents before they can apply for citizenship.

With Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team opposed to the changes, the government will need to do a deal to get the legislation through the upper house.

The government needs 10 of the 12 cross bench senators to pass the bill, making the NXT's bloc of three senators crucial to securing the changes.

The NXT said in a dissenting report it was "extremely concerned" about beefed up ministerial powers which override decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and overturn grants of citizenship.

While the committee found the additional powers were necessary, Law Council of Australia president Fiona McLeod said there was concern about giving the minister more control.

"We didn't see that the extension of those personal powers had any justification and potentially eroded the separation of powers," Ms McLeod told AAP.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie told ABC Radio before the report's release on Thursday night that she was close to supporting the legislation.

Source AAP

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