Improvements to strengthen citizenship welcomed in the North


Legislation to improve the integrity of the nation’s citizenship process is expected to receive broad support across the North, and will align the law with community appreciation of the value of Australian citizenship, Northern based Government Senator Ian Macdonald said today.

Senator Macdonald said the reforms proposed by the Turnbull Government to strengthen the citizenship process were introduced into the Parliament this week, requiring potential citizens to prove their ability to integrate into society, and embrace Australian values.

Reforms include:

  • requiring all applicants to pass a stand-alone English test, involving reading, writing, listening and speaking
  • requiring applicants to have lived in Australia as permanent residents for at least four years (instead of one year at present)
  • strengthening the citizenship test itself with new and more meaningful questions that assess an applicant’s understanding of – and commitment to – our shared values and responsibilities
  • requiring applicants to show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community. Examples could include evidence of employment, membership of community organisations and school enrolment for eligible children
  • limiting the number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship test to three (at present no limit)
  • introducing an automatic fail for applicants to who cheat during the citizenship test

“I welcome these reforms which place a greater emphasis on those values and attributes which Australians proudly embrace, and which are intrinsic to our national identity,” Senator Macdonald said.

“There is a widely-held community expectation that permanent residents who want take that next step and become citizens have a genuine desire to integrate into our society and become fair dinkum ‘Aussies’.”

The new requirements will apply to all new applications for Australian citizenship received on or after the date of the Government’s initial announcement on 20 April, 2017. The Minister will retain the power to grant exemptions in a small number of specific circumstances.

More details on the changes is available at www.border.gov.au.

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