Who do you think should be an Australian citizen?

North Queenslanders are being encouraged to share their views on whether or not the requirements to become an Australian citizen should be strengthened.

 Northern based Government Senator and Chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee Senator Ian Macdonald said submissions are being called as part of an inquiry into the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian citizenship and other Measures) Bill.

 Senator Macdonald said he encouraged people living in the North to have their say on whether existing laws go far enough protecting the values and attributes assigned to Australian citizenship.

 “In my role as Chair of the Committee conducting this inquiry, I have asked the Committee Secretariat to invite a wide range of groups and national bodies to contribute their views, such as law societies, RSL and veteran organisations, migrant and refugee advocates, churches, and business and mining bodies to have their say on the proposed reforms,” Senator Macdonald said.

 “But just as importantly, I would love to hear the views of everyday Australians who live and work in our regional communities, and who have a very clear idea of what citizenship means to them.”

 The amendments to the Bill require 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

 The closing date for submissions is 21 July, 2017. For details on how to lodge a submission or for further information, go to the Inquiry’s home page at www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs

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