Proposed Changes to Citizenship Not Good for Business
9 August 2017 at 11:14 am
The Diversity Council Australia (DCA) says proposed changes to Australia’s citizenship process would “not be good for business”.
The not-for-profit workplace diversity and inclusion advisor to business argued against proposed changes to Australia’s citizenship processes in a submission to a Senate inquiry.
DCA said in its submission that business in Australia would be missing out on a great deal of talent if the government went ahead with a number of the proposed changes in the Citizenship Bill.
In June 2017 the Senate announced an inquiry into the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017.
Changes in the Bill include:
- extending the waiting period for permanent residents from one year to “at least four years” before eligibility for citizenship;
- increasing the English language requirement to qualify for Australian citizenship; and
- widening ministerial discretion to deny citizenship in individual immigration cases.
DCA’s CEO Lisa Annese said: “Leading Australian businesses recognised the value that our rich multicultural and multilingual society provides.
“Migration has gifted Australia with a workforce that speaks over 300 languages and has a diverse range of skills and cultural competencies that leading organisations want,” Annese said.
“Organisations that effectively capitalise on the skills and talents of their culturally diverse workforces open up new business markets and can better understand and service an increasingly diverse client base.”
DCA said it was particularly concerned about the proposed language test in the Citizenship Bill.
“Employees working at our member organisation shared stories from their family’s migration experience with us. Australia would have missed out on a great deal of talent if the proposed language test was introduced previously,” Annese said.
“We don’t want to take that risk with future generations.”
DCA’s submission also said that increasing the general residence requirement for permanent residents from one to four years could place an additional burden on people who have entered Australia on temporary work or humanitarian visas, and also be a deterrent to skilled permanent residents who may leave Australia, rather than wait for citizenship.
“Moreover, the retrospective nature of these proposed changes is deeply unfair and jeopardises Australia’s reputation as a destination of choice for global talent,”Annese said.
“While DCA supports all Australians having a good grasp of English proficiency, we do not believe that an English language test is the best way to achieve this.
“Rather, DCA believes that investment in English language programs for migrants and refugees, as well as workplace programs to support inclusion, would be more conducive to achieving the desired goal of better enabling all citizens to fully participate in Australia’s social and economic activities.”
The inquiry received 481 submissions.
A submission by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) said it “strongly recommended that this Bill not be passed”.
“This Bill would unjustifiably affect refugees by further exacerbating the false link between refugees and terrorism,” the submission said.
“We note the amendment proposed by the government does not achieve the stated purpose if the claim of national security is the central premise for its raison d’etre. The amendment does not contain any evidence for this premise, particularly considering the fact that people are already in Australia on Permanent Resident visas, and there being extensive visa cancellation powers that currently exist.
ASRC said the new requirement for English language testing proposed in the Bill would disproportionately affect people seeking asylum, who have not had the privilege of access to education in their home country, which is often the case for marginalized sections of society.
“Imposing a stricter level of English competency that is arguably equivalent to university-level English requirements does not reflect the fact that there is ample evidence of the positive contribution of migrants to Australian society under existing requirements.”
The Senate inquiry is scheduled to deliver its report on the Bill by 4 September 2017.