Nick Xenophon received an enthusiastic praise from the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA), for his decision to vote against the Government’s proposed bill to strengthen the requirements for Australian Citizenship. By withholding their support for the bill, the three NXT senators effectively make it impossible for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to pass the amendments, which have been the target of harsh criticism.

“Congratulations—and the thanks of Australia’s multicultural community—go to Senator Xenophon and his team for announcing that they will deliver the numbers to throw out this cruel, unnecessary and discriminatory proposal,” said the Chair of FECCA, Mr Joe Caputo, once again expressing the Council’s opposition to the “oppressive” bill, which raises the level of difficulty for prospective Australian citizens, extending the waiting period for application, asking for university-level knowledge of the English language and granting the Minister of Immigration extended powers to overrule immigration decisions made by his department and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

“The politicisation of immigration decision-making proposed by this Bill threatens our immigration system, which has an international and long-standing reputation for being impartial, fair and transparent,” said Mr Caputo. “For decades, Australian citizenship has fostered inclusivity, allowing migrants to feel Australian, regardless of their country of origin.”

Warning about the implications, the head of the peak national body representing Australians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds explained: “This Bill seeks to create a permanent underclass of residents, denied the rights and opportunities of being welcomed and included as Australian citizens. Permanent residents should be encouraged to seek citizenship as soon as practically possible to foster a sense of inclusion and belonging and to encourage integration.”