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Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s overhaul of Australian citizenship laws have suffered a major setback with his reforms unable to pass the parliament ahead of a Senate imposed deadline — an outcome hailed as a “major victory” by Labor and the Greens.
The proposed shake-up would have increased the permanent residency requirement for citizenship from one to four years and imposed a tougher English language requirement on aspiring Australians.
The changes — which would also have required applicants to demonstrate they had integrated into Australian society — were due to take effect from the date of their announcement by Mr Dutton on April 20.
Mr Dutton said the government remained “committed to strengthening citizenship”, and flagged that negotiations would continue with crossbench Senators, although no-timeline has been set on the passage of any revamped package.
“It’s a shame that Bill Shorten is so weak that he has to capitulate to the hard left of the Labor Party against the national interest,” Mr Dutton said.

Labor’s citizenship spokesman Tony Burke said the failure of the government to pass the bill was a “great victory for every person who wants to pledge allegiance to this country and make a commitment to Australia”.
“I would urge those in celebrating this moment and who have been involved in this campaign all around Australia though to know this government will try again,” he said.
“If, under current law you are able to apply now (for citizenship), I would recommend you do so.”
The proposed English language obligations proposed in the government bill would have required applicants to score the equivalent of a band 6 score in the General Training stream of the International *English Language Testing System (IELTS).
Sample questions in the IELTS General Training test seen by The Australian required citizenship applicants to examine complex extracts dealing with diverse topics such as carbon emissions, chlorofluorocarbons, bee behaviour, the history of cinema and automation in newspaper production.

Mr Dutton today proposed two last minute amendments to lower the language obligation to a band 5 score in the General Training stream of the IELTS and delay the start date of the new regime until mid 2018.
The concessions failed to secure passage of the reforms with Greens Senator Nick McKim saying the outcome was a “huge win.”
“Peter Dutton tried to tear down multicultural Australia and remake it in his own hateful image,” he said. “He now has an obligation to ensure that citizenship applications are assessed under existing rules.”
Despite the Senate opposition to the government’s plan to increase the permanent residency requirement for citizenship to four years, other similar countries across the world have longer wait times.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection confirmed in its submission to a Senate inquiry that New Zealand, the UK, the US, France and Germany had permanent residency requirements ranging between five to eight years.
“The Government has responded to the Senate report by reducing the proposed English language requirement (from IELTS 6 equivalent to IELTS 5 equivalent) and adjusting the commencement date to next year,” Mr Dutton said yesterday.
If the bill fails to pass by the end of today -- an outcome that looks almost certain -- it will be knocked-out of the upper house. It will then to be relisted by the government for debate after the Senate voted last month to impose a deadline of October 18 for its passage through the parliament.
 

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The proposed Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 has been struck from parliamentary business, effectively defeating the proposed amendments.
 
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