Public feedback on contentious citizenship changes will not be revealed by Australia

In deviating from the established procedures the Government of Australia has announced that it will not be making public the feedback received from the civil society regarding the changes to Australian citizenship. The contentious bill will be tabled in the Parliament of Australia for its approval this week.

It was confirmed by the Department of Immigration in Australia that it will not reveal the feedback received from the public during the process of consultation that was formulated to launch the revamped criterions for citizenship of Australia. The most obvious addition was the test for Australian values.

While a spokesperson for the department said that the submissions of the public were meant to be confidential, diverse organizations that gave submissions to the department were reported by the Fairfax Media as saying that they did not ask for their feedback to be kept secret, as quoted by the SMH.

The Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre, Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils and The Refugee Council have all revealed their submissions on their respective websites criticizing the proposals of the government for making changes to the citizenship.

It was confirmed by the Immigration Minister of Australia Peter Dutton that the bill to implement the crucial changes to citizenship will be tabled for the Parliament’s approval in this week itself. The new legal framework for citizenship will require the immigrants below 18 years to qualify through the test for good character that has been introduced to curb minor immigrants with the criminal background, added the Minister.

He further elaborated that the government intends to ensure that people who are granted the citizenship adhere to the values and laws of Australia.

The Labor party reserved its stand as the Spokesperson for Citizenship Tony Burke assured that the party will be responsible for dealing with any proposal that makes sense. It was also clarified by Mr. Dutton that the government was open to discussions with the crossbenchers in the Senate.

The decision to withhold public feedback is in contravention with the established practices for the government deliberations as the feedback is normally revealed online if in case it does not contain defamatory or sensitive material.

Refugee Council of Australia’ Asher Hirsch said that it was very crucial to ensure that the process for feedback on citizenship is kept open and transparent. He further elaborated that in several instances the Department of Immigration does not reveal crucial information pertaining to its policies. The changes to citizenship should not become one more addition to closed doors secret decisions, added Hirsch.

Only those feedback that has been marked as confidential must be withheld from public purview otherwise it must be revealed so as to enable the public in Australia to assess the possible troubles the changes could cause, explained Refugee Council of Australia’ Asher Hirsch.

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Anshul Singhal

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