Government Given Four Day Deadline For Citizenship Changes Vote

The Senate will throw out the Federal Government’s Citizenship Bill if it has not been voted on the remaining days until the deadline.

The Senate agreed to strike the government’s citizenship bill from the notice paper if not voted on by October 18, after a motion from the Greens passed the Senate on Wednesday.

Greens members wanted the bill removed from consideration immediately, but agreed to crossbench Senator Jacqui Lambie’s amendment to allow the government until the deadline to vote.

There are only four parliamentary sitting days until the deadline.

The motion states that if the bill has not been voted on by the deadline, “the order of the day shall be discharged from the notice paper.”

If Immigration Minister Peter Dutton fails to allow the bill to be debated by the deadline, the government will move a motion in the Senate to restore the bill to the notice paper.

A citizenship overhaul would result in a minimum four year wait for permanent residents to apply for citizenship, stricter English language requirements and an Australian values test.

A similar motion was last successful in 1995 when WA Greens senator Dee Margetts moved to discharge a government bill.

The Greens remain frustrated the controversial citizenship plan had not yet been debated, despite being announced in April and listed on the Senate notice paper since last week.

They said the delay was creating stress to potential citizens and permanent residents.

It came less than a week after the Nick Xenophon Team criticised Mr Dutton’s attempts to introduce the new laws, saying it could not be supported in its current form.

“The government needs to go back to the drawing board on this,” NXT Senator Skye Kakoschke-Moore said.

“As Senators, it is incumbent upon us to do the job we’ve been elected to do which is debate and vote on bills before us.”

However, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton criticised the motion before it passed.

“The Labor Party don’t want this debate because they are torn internally in relation to it,” he said.

“The reality is that, when you are looking at a Labor leader, you know that he or she is most weak when he or she sides with the Greens.”

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Senator James McGrath said the move indicated the opposition did not want to examine the possible changes.

“It’s disgraceful Labor and the Greens are not even willing to debate measures to strengthen [citizenship],” he told the Senate chamber.

“This motion is a stunt that demonstrates how little respect the Greens have for Australian citizenship.”

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