In April the Australian Government through its Prime Minister announced a decision to overhaul its citizenship laws following the introduction of the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 in the lower house.
The Bill will, however, require support from both sides of the house to pass and has been sent to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for further scrutiny. The Committee is expected to report its findings on 4 September 2017.
The bill which faces stiff opposition from the Labor Party comes against a backdrop of 81000 citizenship applications reported to be lodged at the DIBP awaiting processing.
It proposes to introduce a stand-alone English language test and increase the waiting time for permanent residents applying for citizenship from one year to four years, among a raft of other measures.
“The Department currently has more than 81,000 applications on hand, and will continue delivering the Citizenship program over the coming months while new arrangements are settled,” a spokesperson of the DIBP told SBS Punjabi.
The DIBP has made it clear to applicants who filed their paperwork on April 20th that they will have to adhere to new requirements such as an English language test, Australian Values Statement, Pledge of commitment and integration into the Australian community for eligibility to get Australian citizenship. It currently takes the Department an average of 13 months to process a citizenship application.
But Labor frontbencher and Shadow Minister for Citizenship, Tony Burke says the department should process citizenship applications according to the current law. He and other opposition members feel the English bar that has been set by the Government is too high for citizenship applicants.
Speaking in Parliament he said: “The current citizenship test is already in English, and these proposed changes by the government are an additional test being added to the list of their desired requirements,” adding, “Being an Australian citizen should be about your values and commitment to this country, not whether a person can speak a university level of English.”