The rise and fall of Dutton’s Citizenship Bill


The recent demise of the government’s Citizenship Bill in the parliament was major news and heavily reported on in the press. However, it seems the government remains committed to introducing changes to Citizenship requirements and plans to launch a new bill in late 2017 or early 2018.

The government adopted an aggressive approach to its Citizenship Bill in April 2017, announcing plans to add significant additional requirements for Citizenship applications. In particular, the Bill made the changes to the laws retrospective from the date of announcement – cutting off many who potentially qualified but had not yet lodged their application.

The proposed changes included much higher requirements for Citizenship than previously, including a requirement of four years residency as a permanent resident (up from a requirement for four years lawful residency and 12 months as a permanent resident), higher English language requirements, a new subjective integration test, and new pledges of allegiance.

The Bill was met significant resistance from migrant community groups, opposition politicians and commentators. In particular, the high level of English language ability required, was criticised as being ‘a bizarre act of snobbery’ and likely to prevent a large number of migrants from ever becoming Australian citizens.

The Bill was finally withdrawn by the Federal Government in October this year after it became clear the Bill would not gain sufficient support from the Senate crossbench to pass. The withdrawal of the bill has resulted in an influx of Citizenship applications and the government now has a significant backlog of applications which may take up to 12 months to process.

The government has already announced its intention to re-introduce a new Bill with a similar suite of changes but lower English language requirement (equivalent to an IELTS score of 5.0). While this new Bill has not yet been issued the Department has already released information stating that the new laws will apply from 1 July 2018.

Hammond Taylor encourages all prospective applicants for Citizenship to consider applying before 1 July 2018. We will continue to monitor the situation and advise on changes to the Citizenship laws once the Bill is released.

Contact Hammond Taylor today for professional assistance with your Citizenship application.