Submission to the DIBP's discussion paper on strengthening the test for Australian citizenship

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Mr Khanh Hoang and Dr Sangeetha Pillai made a submission on behalf of the Kaldor Centre to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's discussion paper on strengthening the test for Australian citizenship.

Extract

We support the position, expressed in the Australian Government’s 2017 Multicultural Statement and reinforced in the discussion paper, that Australian citizenship is an important part of ‘our national identity as an integrated and united people’. We also agree with the statement in the introduction to the discussion paper that ‘[b]uilding mutual obligations between government, the community and the individual, regardless of nationality, strengthens our resilience and sense of belonging’. The objective of fostering a diverse and harmonious Australia, comprised of people from a broad range of cultures, races, faiths and nations, who seek to contribute to our society is, in our view, a laudable one.

We are, however, concerned that the changes to the process for acquiring Australian citizenship proposed in the discussion paper will not serve the goal of fostering cohesion and integration amongst the Australian population, and may in fact have the opposite effect. Given the significant implications of the proposed changes for individuals and society, we suggest that it is incumbent on the government to justify why these changes are necessary.

In our view, the case for the proposed amendments has not been made out. Our submission will address four specific concerns:

  1. The discussion paper does not make a clear, evidence-based case for why the proposed changes are needed.
  2. There is considerable uncertainty about how the proposed changes will operate, and which applicants for citizenship will be affected.
  3. The proposed changes are likely to have a disproportionate impact on people from refugee and humanitarian entrant backgrounds.
  4. The proposed changes create inequalities amongst citizens, and in doing so undermine the stated goal of fostering integration and cohesion.

Read the full submission.