June 20, 2017
Members will have noted that Labor will oppose the government’s proposed changes to citizenship legislation. Labor is committed to any measure that will keep Australians safe and we know that national security legislation comes on the advice of our national security agencies, but we have seen no evidence whatsoever from our security agencies that the measures proposed in this bill will substantially benefit national security outcomes. It applies to people who are applying for or are already permanent residents. They have gone through extensive security vetting already and, if they are a security threat, they should not be here. Delaying someone’s path to citizenship isolates the individual from Australian society. It impacts social cohesion. This cannot be good for the person or their sense of belonging in Australia. We are committed to supporting new Australians learning English and we would back it up with real funding. But what kind of message is snobbery? What kind of message does forcing applicants to reach a level of competency of English higher than is required by most universities send to Australian society as a whole? The effect of these government measures is to prevent a large number of people from becoming new Aussies—people who have lived in this country for years and have worked hard, have paid their taxes, have contributed to Australia and want to pledge their allegiance to this country. That is the definition of integration that we believe in.