Controversial Australian Citizenship Bill fails…for now

The controversial Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 has been defeated as the Bill was struck off after a deadline set by the Senate lapsed yesterday.

The controversial Bill was set to bring a raft of changes to applications made for Australian citizenship by conferral, including:

  • Increasing the residency requirements as a permanent visa holder from one to four years,
  • Requiring applicants to achieve a minimum score of a stand-alone English test,
  • Requiring applicants to demonstrate integration and contribution to the Australian community.

It has been reported that a last-ditch effort by the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection to compromise did not succeed before the deadline.

While this is good news for 50,000 or so applications lodged since the announcement of these changes on 20 April 2017, it is not yet clear when the Department of Immigration and Border Protection will begin processing this backlog of applications. They conceded to the Commonwealth Ombudsman that none have been processed so far. Their website still lists that the now defeated regulations would apply to any application lodged on or after 20 April 2017 subject to the Bill being passed.

Lastly, this does not mean the end of the any changes to citizenship down the track. There is no reason why the Minister cannot introduce a new Bill and negotiate with certain senators for the numbers needed. There is no news yet at the likelihood of this occurring. They most likely would want to lick their wounds first.