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Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Page: 9636

Citizenship


Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:54): My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator Cash. The explanatory memorandum, which accompanied the Turnbull government's failed citizenship changes, stated that a person could be deemed as having competent English:

… if they are a passport holder of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, the United States of America or New Zealand …

Why did the government consider that university-level English should be required for those coming from India and China but not for those coming from Canada or the United Kingdom?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:55): In relation to the question, it is a very specific question and I don't actually have a brief in relation to the relevant countries. I will take it on notice, and revert to you.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McAllister, a supplementary question.



Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:55): In relation to the policy more generally, does the minister now accept that the proposed changes risk creating 'a new underclass' of a substantial number of people in Australia, as warned by the Multicultural Communities Council of New South Wales and the Chinese Community Council of Australia?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:55): I would reject, actually, the premise of that question. But as I said, in relation to the actual information on the specific countries, I will revert to you.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McAllister, a final supplementary question.



Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (14:55): Will the minister commit to consigning the double standards that have not been seen since the White Australia policy to the history books, or does he hold out hope that he will be able to revive his proposed amendments?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:56): Senator McAllister, I completely reject the premise of your question. In relation to the steps that this government takes to ensure that those who come to settle here have the appropriate levels of English, it is always about ensuring that they have the skills that they need, in particular, so that they can participate in the workplace. Everything that we do on this side of the chamber is about empowering those who come here to be the very, very best that they can.