Senate quashes Citizenship Bill amendments
26 October 2017
The Senate has thrown out controversial proposed changes to the Citizenship Bill, which would have given the minister the power to override the decisions of the independent umpire (the Administrative Appeals Tribunal).
The Law Council raise serious concerns about a number of measures included in the proposed bill including:
- Giving increased power to the minister to override decisions of the AAT
- The introduction of an English language test and the standard of that test
- The introduction of a values or character test Issues around integration, which were not addressed in the bill, but to be determined by a legislative instrument.
Law Council President, Fiona McLeod SC, highlighted the issue in a number of media interviews and explained on ABC News:
“The minister seeks to keep to himself the power to override the decisions of the independent umpire. In this case that’s the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, a tribunal that is set up to review government decisions and the process by which governments make those decisions. So, if you give a minister the power to simply override those decisions you’re eroding the separation of powers and you’re extending executive power, which intrudes on the rule of law in this country.”
The Law Council previously provided a submission into the changes and appeared before the Parliamentary committee inquiring into the Government's Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill where concerns were raised about the changes which did not seem adequately justified. More from ABC The World Today Dutton revises proposed changes to citizenship test; ABC AM Senate kills off citizenship bill; The Guardian Peter Dutton concedes he will have to amend citizenship legislation; Lawyer’s Weekly Changes to Australian citizenship laws blocked.