In recent weeks I have attended many citizenship ceremonies in a number of towns across Western Victoria region, including Kyneton and Ballarat. It is fantastic to see the strong numbers at the ceremonies epitomising the strength of multiculturalism in Victoria. The recent Geelong citizenship ceremony was moved to a larger venue to accommodate some 120 people who were granted citizenship, which was around 70 more than usual. As members of Parliament we get the privilege to attend citizenship ceremonies and see the facial expressions of people at the moment when they are awarded their certificates for Australian citizenship.
However, the new laws recently passed in the federal Parliament create another barrier in the way of migrants fulfilling their dreams of citizenship.
Michael Martinez of Diversitat, the operational arm of the Geelong Ethnic Communities Council, stated:
- The government said they wanted to introduce a test to encourage citizenship, but those who will be sitting the test are likely to be from non-English-speaking backgrounds. What has speaking English got to do with being a good citizen? …
An amount of $123 million will be spent on Australia’s new citizenship test. That money would be better spent on widening settlement and support services for migrants, instead of on damaging multiculturalism in Australia.