Peter Dutton’s controversial citizenship bill has failed to pass the Senate, leaving the package dead in its current form.
Nick McKim, the Greens’ citizenship spokesman, hailed the bill’s failure as a major win.
“Today, the people of Australia have shown what we can achieve when we stand together,” McKim said on Wednesday. “People who are working, studying and raising families in Australia can now get on with their lives and make choices about their future, after they were so unfairly put on hold for months.”
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton confirmed to media this evening that applications received after April 20 would be processed under existing laws following the rejection of amendments by the Senate.
The decision is a significant backdown from the Federal Government, following its announcement in April of planned changes that would have made it harder to become an Australian.
The proposal would have required applicants to live in Australia for four years on permanent residency visas and demonstrate “competence” in English.
Mr Dutton had sought to apply the changes to all people who applied from April 20, but he could not secure support from the Senate.
A last-minute proposal by Mr Dutton this afternoon, hours before a parliamentary deadline to keep his bill alive, was rejected by the Senate crossbench.
These amendments to the initial bill reduced the English competency required by applicants from “competent” to “modest” and changed the start date to July next year.
Labor’s citizenship spokesman Tony Burke said the failure of the government to pass the bill was a “great victory for every person who wants to pledge allegiance to this country and make a commitment to Australia”.
“I would urge those in celebrating this moment and who have been involved in this campaign all around Australia though to know this government will try again,” he said.
“If, under current law you are able to apply now (for citizenship), I would recommend you do so.”
NXT senator Stirling Griff rejected Mr Dutton’s 11th-hour attempt at compromise, and had called on the Government to start processing new citizenship applications.
“The Government did not need legislation to impose the freeze on citizenship applications and it most certainly does not need legislation to lift it,” he said earlier.
“This is all self-imposed; the Government can lift the freeze any time it wants to and process those applications that are currently in limbo.”
The Federal Government wanted applications received since April 20 to be processed under the proposed laws, but the reforms stalled following a Senate committee report that was critical of the proposal.