ECCV concerned proposed citizenship changes may unfairly target most vulnerable

The Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (ECCV) has expressed strong concern that the proposed changes to Australia’s citizenship laws may unfairly target some of the most vulnerable members our community, including refugees and new arrivals.

 

ECCV Chairperson, Eddie Micallef, said while his organisation was not necessarily opposed to reviewing citizenship laws, any changes should be made with the “utmost caution” and with “reference to facts and not populist political posturing”.

 

“Any proposal to change the citizenship laws of this country should acknowledge the complexity of the exercise and its potential to have a hugely negative impact and possibly unfair outcomes on people who are wanting to migrate to this country for a range of genuine and compelling reasons,” Mr Micallef said.

 

“It has been well documented in extensive research over a long period of time that much of Australia’s wealth and prosperity is based on the successive waves of migration that have brought new skills, economic benefits, and a range of other positives that have contributed to the great success story of multiculturalism in this country.

 

“We are in part an immigrant nation and to assert otherwise is to deny basic facts about the many elements that have gone into how this country has been formed and its demographic makeup.

 

“The fact that as part of the citizenship proposed changes there will be a tougher English language test, a test of so-called ‘Australian values’ and the fact people will have to wait longer - from one to four years - to become eligible for citizenship, are issues that are fraught with potential problems and difficulties.

“We live in a culturally and linguistically diverse society. It is simplistic to assert that there are definitive values that define what an Australian is. For the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, to assert that he is somehow the ‘guardian’ of these values and to list them, ignores the wide range of values that many Australians hold dear, such as preserving the environment; treating refugees and asylum seekers humanely; and providing economic opportunity to all.

“The PM, and political leaders at all levels, have made many statements in the past which strongly support the idea that our multiculturalism is one of the things that makes Australia such a great country to live in.

“It has been reported that the Federal Government is calling for submissions on a discussion paper from the community on the proposed changes. The discussion paper ‘Strengthening the test for Australian Citizenship’, can be found on the Australian Government’s Department of Immigration and Boarder Protection website.

“ECCV will be making a submission on this and is encouraging all members of Victoria’s ethnic and multicultural communities to make their own submissions on the discussion paper - to have their ‘voices’ heard - and express in the strongest possible terms their responses to the proposed changes.”

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