The Parliament of Australia has seen the introduction of the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 by the Turnbull Government on 15 June 2017. The Bill will set out to strengthen the requirements to become an Australian citizen by increasing the residence requirement and introducing an English competency requirement among other things.
Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, introduced the Bill by exclaiming that “Australian citizenship is an extraordinary privilege.” He stressed that the success of Australia as a nation is based on its shared values, rights and responsibilities. He said of the Bill:
Mr Dutton emphasised that the Bill is a result of the 2015 “National consultation on citizenship: your right, your responsibility” which he described as indicating Australia’s support for strengthening the test for Australian citizenship. More importantly, he argued in the Second Reading Speech, the community expects that aspiring citizens demonstrate their allegiance to Australia and their commitment to live in accordance with Australian values and laws irrespective of race, of religion, of nationality or of ethnic origin.
The Bill will introduce a number of new requirements to become an Australian citizen. Changes will include:
Mr Dutton also described his concern with recent AAT decisions that have “found that people were of good character despite having been convicted of child sexual offences, manslaughter, people smuggling or domestic violence”.
The Bill proposes to empower the Minister with the ability to set aside certain decisions of the AAT if it is in the public interest to do so. However, such decisions would still be subject to judicial review in the Federal Court or High Court. The new provision does not propose to exclude or limit judicial review. Mr Dutton said:
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Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017, Bill, Second reading Speech and Explanatory Memorandum as published on LawOne
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