Labor has opposed the citizenship bill in objection to the requirement for citizens to meet a competent English proficiency level. This means that this issue will move on to the Senate crossbench, and it is reported that the Bill is likely to receive support to move forward.
The English requirement will definitely be a challenge for many and result in many permanent residents being unable to attain citizenship. Competent English should not be a requirement for citizenship; it is not an indicator of if a person is a contributive and beneficial addition to Australia. Achieving competent English requires meeting a score level for all modules (speaking, listening, writing, reading). Not every job requires higher English skills – this requirement does not take into account people who are otherwise highly skilled. A person who may not have the required English proficiency level may struggle with writing, for example, but is otherwise entrepreneurial, and/or may be able to establish business ties overseas for Australia’s benefit. In integrating with the Australian community, a competent level of English is higher than necessary to communicate with another English speaker and not being able to reach those scores does not necessarily mean that that person would not be able to. It definitely cannot tell you if a person is committed to Australia and Australian values.
Quite possibly a very large group of people will live in Australia for the majority of their lives and never be able to say “I’m Australian”. We can only hope that these changes will not happen.
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