Citizenship plan unfair and invasive, says rights group

Citizenship plan unfair and

invasive, says rights group

Changes floated by the Immigration Minister to requirements for Australian citizenship are unnecessary and counter-productive, Liberty Victoria said today.

Peter Dutton suggested on Sky News on 7 February that the test should involve a greater inquiry into a candidate's history of work, their children's conduct and English proficiency.

Getting citizenship already involves an investigation into whether a person has a criminal history, residency requirements and a test.

“The existing regime is sufficient,” said Liberty president Jessie Taylor. “The proposed changes would require citizenship candidates to subject themselves to a Government investigation into their lifestyle, their family relations, and work history. This is an unnecessary invasion of privacy.”

As well, Liberty is concerned about the implications of allowing Border Force to "assess" integration. “This approach would likely lead to Border Force agents applying idiosyncratic and discriminatory criteria to assess who is Australian,” she said.

“Mr Dutton unfairly characterises candidates for citizenship as being among the `65 million’ people competing to live in Australia. Citizenship candidates must be permanent residents for four years. They are people who are already living, raising families, and building friendships in Australia. They deserve to be able to become citizens without being subjected to investigation.”
Ms Taylor said a requirement for permanent residents to reach a certain proficiency in English discriminates against those whose ability to study English may be compromised by a disability. These people should not be denied the opportunity to become citizens of the Australian community.