A Senate inquiry into the government’s proposed changes to Australia’s citizenship requirements has attracted about 13,000 submissions.
The overwhelming majority advises against the changes. But a submission by Philip Benwell, the national chair of the Australian Monarchist League, said it agreed with the “proposed strengthening of the bar” for citizenship approval.
“The issue of multiculturalism, which is important, is being put above the Australian identity,” he said.
“It’s important that when people come here, they become Australians, assimilate into the Australian community, and not form individual communities.”
Mr Benwell said the League was not convinced all potential citizens were doing everything they can to fully integrate.
The League’s members have backed the government’s push for applicants to prove their integration, whether it’s joining clubs or enrolling their kids in school.
But Mr Benwell was more cautious about other measures, including the English proficiency test.
“We believe the proficiency test should be stronger. Of course, not to University level, that’s a bit absurd,” he said.
He also raised concerns about the immigration minister being given powers to overrule tribunal decisions he disagrees with.
“Something needs to be done to strengthen the requirements for citizenship without being overruled by another body,” he said.
“But on the other hand, too much power being placed in the hands of one person is never a good thing. Peter Dutton may be a very competent minister, but in a few years time we may have a totally incompetent minister.”
Dick Smith calls citizenship debate a “non-issue”
Entrepreneur Dick Smith said he was sceptical of all the measures, in the shadow of his million-dollar campaign encouraging Australia to slash its annual migration intake by more than half.
“I think this is a complete non-issue,” he said.
“I don’t agree on making the English test harder. I think modern Australia’s made from immigration and many of those immigrants came here, coudn’t speak English at all.
“Trying these different small changes are because our politicians are not game to say that we have to have a population policy.”
Mr Smith’s campaign is pushing to bring down Australia’s annual migration intake to 70,000.
But in a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection said the migration program “remains at a ceiling of 190,000 places”.
It added that Australia’s citizenship program is demand driven and without caps.
“There is nothing in the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill currently before parliament that will change this,” the statement read.