Australian citizenship is a privilege

Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker spoke in support of the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 in Federal Parliament today (Wednesday).

“I welcome the opportunity to speak in support of these important reforms because Australian citizenship is a privilege,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“…I think one of the great things about citizenship of this country is that we don't require people to neglect their heritage.

“We very much encourage them to reflect on their heritage and to preserve their heritage, but we also wish that they would adopt our values and the Australian way of life and contribute as Australian citizens who are born here…

“…If we award the privilege of Australian citizenship to those who don't respect our values, institutions and the Australian way of life, we are opening ourselves to becoming a nation of division and disunity.

“This bill ensures that every new citizen signs an Australian values statement, but this builds on what is currently in place by requiring applicants to demonstrate they are attempting to integrate with and contribute to the Australian community in accordance with Australian values.

“Merely signing a form is not enough, as it does little in determining whether these individuals are really serious about their commitment to Australian values and the Australian way of life.

“The measure in this bill requires them to demonstrate exactly what they are doing to join our Australian family—for example, getting a job, looking for work or paying tax on the work they are doing to contribute financially to their new home.

“These are practical signs that the applicants for citizenship are genuinely committed to their role in Australian society.

“In addition to the police checks currently conducted, the government of the day will also evaluate whether those applying to be Australian citizens have previously engaged in activities that are inconsistent with Australian values.

“Domestic and family violence is a scourge in this country and something we need to fight, so it would be detrimental to allow violent individuals who have a propensity to conduct themselves in such a way to gain Australian citizenship.

“Failing to stand for a judge in a court of law in this country would be something very inconsistent with our Australian values. Being involved in heinous or organised crime and being part of a gang are not consistent with Australian values…

“So I think it's appropriate that the changes that the government has made in this legislation should be supported, and it is most disappointing that we are seeing the members opposite flip-flopping on this…

“This is important legislation. It is legislation that should be supported by this House.

A full record of Mr Hartsuyker’s speech is available from Parliamentary Hansard, via http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Hansard.

The recommended changes:

·         Introducing a requirement for applicants to demonstrate competent English language through listening, speaking, reading and writing skills before being able to sit the citizenship test.

·         Specifying a requirement to sign an Australian Values Statement and requiring applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community in accordance with Australian values. The current Australian Values Statement includes an understanding of respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual; freedom of religion; commitment to the rule of law;            Parliamentary democracy; equality of men and women; equality of opportunity for individuals, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic background; and English language, as the national language, is an important unifying element of Australian society.

·         In addition to existing police checks which are undertaken as part of any application for citizenship, an applicant will also be assessed for specified conduct that is inconsistent with Australian values, such as domestic or family violence, criminality including female genital mutilation and involvement in gangs and organised crime.

·         Expanding the power to revoke citizenship when satisfied that the person became a citizen as a result of fraud or misrepresentation, by allowing revocation without a prior criminal conviction for fraud.

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