There seems a nuance missing from the current debate on immigration levels in Australia. Yes, the numbers of people here is an issue. But the issue is also citizenship because, as the ad used to say, membership has its privileges.
The general requirements to become a citizen of Australia are:
- have passed a citizenship test (unless over the age of 60)
- be a permanent resident at the time of application, and also, at time of decision
- satisfy the residence requirement
- be likely to reside, or to continue to reside, in Australia or to maintain a close and continuing association with Australia
be of good character.
The residence requirements require that at the time you apply you must have been:
- living in Australia on a valid visa for the past 4 years
- a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen for the past 12 months
- away from Australia for no more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the past 12 months
But the Minister (of Immigration) has significant discretion on residence and other tests. There is also a very odd residence exemption for people who:
engage in activities that are supported by particular organisations, such as the Australian Olympic and Paralympics committees, Tennis Australia, Cricket Australia or a federal government agency
Yep. Athletes and public servants get special treatment over entrepreneurs, business people and other Joes average.
But remember. Citizenship comes with certain privileges. You get to vote and you get to travel on an Australian passport; meaning that the Australian government can’t cancel your visa while you are overseas as Mr Huang Xiangmo discovered when his visa was cancelled. The government also has a policy to deport non-citizen criminals, something they can’t do for citizens.
Fortunately, Australia does not have birthright citizenship, but becoming an Australian citizen seems too easy. Can we please have a discussion about Australian citizenship. For one, TAFKAS would like something closer to the Swiss model where citizenship is a privilege and not a right:
- It takes 10 years of residency to be eligible, and this includes being physically in Switzerland for 3 of the immediate 5 years prior to application.
- Applicants must be “well integrated into Swiss society”. Integration can be demonstrated through among other things, proving that the applicant respects public order and security, poses no threat to internal or external security, supports the integration of family members and possesses good written and oral command of one of the official languages.
- If an applicant was dependent upon social welfare anytime during the three years prior to application, then the requirements for Swiss citizenship are not met. Previous dependency on social welfare does not pose an obstacle if the applicant has completely repaid the amount of welfare assistance received before the naturalization application.
Consider this also. A Dutch vegan who applied for a Swiss passport has had her application rejected because the locals found her too annoying. The applicant:
a vegan and animal rights activist, has campaigned against the use of cowbells in the village and her actions have annoyed the locals.
The resident’s committee argued that if she does not accept Swiss traditions and the Swiss way of life, she should not be able to become an official national.
Because she was too annoying she did not get Swiss citizenship. Sadly you can’t take citizenship, Australian or otherwise, away for being too annoying.