The Federal Greens claim it will be “harder if not impossible” for foreign people living and working in Australia to gain citizenship, if new Federal Government citizenship reforms are passed.
The party is calling for Australians “to stand up for multiculturalism, and for a free and welcoming Australia” in a campaign against the changes, after the government announced sweeping reforms.
On the party’s website, it said thousands of people across Australia were working, studying and raising families across the country, with the goal of citizenship “a confirmation of their place in our wonderful society.”
However, it added Immigration Minister Peter Dutton wanted to “put roadblocks in people’s way”, with “patronising values tests, long waits and English standards that many people born here would struggle to reach.”
It comes as Tasmanian Greens Senator Nick McKim called for an inquiry into the reforms.
The inquiry is currently ongoing.
Citizenship Applicants to Fulfil Stricter Requirements
The Federal Government announced its citizenship overhaul in April, introducing a range of tougher new requirements.
Applicants would be required to prove their commitment to Australia by passing a new citizenship test, as well as a more rigorous English language test.
They would also be asked to demonstrate that they have integrated into the community.
Immigration an “Economic Contributor”
Opponents of the reforms say a number of changes were not required, claiming some of them were excessive.
“People who want to become Australian citizens, you should understand the values and the democracy, the system, the government, the governments of this country, the freedom of speech and the basic human rights,” immigration specialist lawyer Lily Chen said.
“The not necessary ones is the English test.”
She said people on visas working in Australia were contributing to the economy.
“Those 457 skilled workers, when they are here they are the most secured, guaranteed tax payers. Why? Because they are salaried,” Ms Chen said.
“And because they have so many strict conditions imposed on their visas therefore, they also are more law obeying residents, temporary residents because they don’t want to risk their future.”
“Actually immigration is a economic contributor rather than damaging the economy or taking away the jobs from the locals.”
“Train Our Own People”: Unions
However, unions claim the Federal Government was taking jobs away from local Australians.
“They’re bringing in people on short term visas, they’re bringing people in on working visas,” Transport Workers Union WA Branch Secretary Tim Dawson said.
“The Turnbull government has caused this unemployment and all they want to do is bring in unskilled people to take away jobs from Australians.”
He said the focus should be on training Australians to fill skilled positions than hiring from overseas.
“We need to train our own people,” Mr Dawson said.
“Our own people should be skilled up to be able to fill the gaps when we don’t have the right skills.”
Small business owner Joey Zhao said the Federal Government needed to rethink the citizenship changes, with one of his managers facing an end to her visa following immigration policy changes.
“It took us like years to train her and put her to the position and to run the business and now we have no choice to find a replacement,” Mr Zhao said.
“It’s a really big hit.”
He said more preparation and consultation was needed before the reforms are passed.
“Before they make changes, they need to hear thoroughly from you know wider range of people, that’s for sure.”