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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 2183

Mr WEST (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs)(5.32) —I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

The intent of these amendments passed in the Senate and which we voted against is to restore the oath of allegiance, to restore the swearing of allegiance to the Queen of Australia in both the oath and the pledge.

The Government accepts that it is not able to get this change through the Senate. We take the view-and I am sure honourable members opposite will agree- that, as this Bill contains the most far-reaching set of constructive amendments to the Australian Citizenship Act since 1949, we are not prepared to see the whole Bill lapse. The Bill will make things easier for the 1.2 million people in this country who are eligible for citizenship but who, as yet, have not taken it out. We want to help and encourage them to take out citizenship, so we are not prepared to lose this constructive measure which, as the Democrats pointed out in the Senate, is a major reform. In this chamber we passed the Bill and in the Senate there has been no extensive criticism of the majority of the reforms. Most of them have been supported by the Opposition. We are not prepared to see this major reform of Australian citizenship laws lapse just because we are unable to get a change to the oath of allegiance through the Senate.

For those reasons, we accept the amendments and I commend the Bill plus the amendments to the Committee. I trust the Opposition will join me in supporting the complete Bill because we are encouraging people to take out citizenship. They are taking out citizenship. Applications are up by at least 30 per cent in the last 18 months and I am sure everyone in this chamber will applaud that fact .