New citizenship laws under fire

The rally outside Parliament House on August 26 to protest against the proposed new citizenship law.

About 100 people attended a rally outside Parliament House on August 26 to protest against the proposed new citizenship law.

Speakers denounced the plan to make permanent residents wait four years before applying for citizenship, and the proposed university-level English language test.

Lebanese migrant Dalal Smiley said many migrant women will be "forever locked out of society" by the language requirement.

Federal shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the new law will keep many migrants from becoming citizens and having the right to vote.

Convenor of the Global Greens Women’s Network Alex Bhathal said the new law will tell migrants they are not welcome unless they meet unrealistic expectations.

Chris Breen from the Refugee Action Collective said the proposed "Australian values" test will promote racist prejudices against migrants, refugees and Muslims. He asked whether the indefinite imprisonment of refugees is an "Australian value".

National Union of Workers organisers Tim Nelthorpe and Shawsikul (the latter a refugee from Myanmar) spoke of the impact the law would have on NUW members, many of whom are migrant agricultural workers. Nelthorpe said the union will help organise further rallies against the new law, including in outer suburbs.

Other speakers included former Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs John Pandazopoulos, federal Labor Member for Wills Peter Khalil, Chairperson of Subcontinent Friends of Labor Victoria Manoj Kumar, President of the National Australian Chinese Women's Association Jennifer Yang and President of the Omid Cultural Association Hayat Rahimi.

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