The Turnbull Government’s second attempt at making it harder for migrants to secure Australian citizenship is nothing more than the White Australia Policy 2.0.
GetUp Human Rights director Shen Narayanasamy said Minister Tudge’s citizenship reboot threatened to wash the colour out of Australia. She said it was also based on misleading claims that new migrants need university-level English skills to contribute to our communities when the evidence proved this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Australian census data for the last decade shows the community with the highest proportion of people with poor English proficiency is from Southern and Eastern Europe - with more than 34% of that community reporting poor English.
“Our longstanding Italian and Greek communities struggled, and still do struggle with English. But as our history of Italian and Greek migration demonstrates, poor English isn’t a predictor of how hard people work or what they have to contribute,” Ms Narayanasamy said.
“Generations of non-English speaking migrants have helped build our community. Having a university standard level of English never was, and never should be, an indicator of worth in this country.
“It’s also laughable that the minister is complaining about migrants living in so-called ‘enclaves’ - we are in the grip of a housing affordability crisis in our capital cities it is absolutely unsurprising that migrants are living where housing is actually affordable.
“Instead of taking responsibility for their own failure to deal with housing affordability, the Government is deriding people who can’t afford to live anywhere else.”
GetUp helped lead the successful defeat of the Turnbull Government’s first attempt at passing these changes through the Senate last year, and is vowing to do so again.
“As crucial cross-bench Senator Stirling Griff stated last time, these changes are just ‘formenting hate’. Numerous experts gave evidence at the Senate Enquiry to demonstrate that these changes disproportionately impacted migrant women, and created an underclass in our community of people who live, work and pay taxes here for most of their life - but will be denied citizenship because of their grammar,” Ms Narayanasamy said.
“Tens of thousands of Australians signed petitions and lobbied our Senators to stop these changes in their tracks and succeeded. If our Government will not protect Australia’s diversity, there is no doubt that the Senate, and our community will do it again.”