Australian Citizenship Day is a day to celebrate the importance of Australian citizenship – a common bond that unites us all.
Australia is a nation built on migration. Generations of permanent migrants from all backgrounds have built both their lives and our country, and their contribution must never be taken for granted.
Gaining Australian citizenship is often the most significant step in a person’s migration story and must always be encouraged, respected, and protected.
Unfortunately, as at 30 July, there were more than 150,000 people living in Australia waiting to have their citizenship applications processed and take their oath of Australian citizenship.
Future citizens are being forced to wait almost two and a half years for their citizenship applications to be processed with the average wait time for 90 per cent of applications sitting at an astonishing 27 months.
This is unacceptable and the Morrison Government cannot force people who are working hard, paying taxes, and contributing to our economy and society wait even longer to take their oath of Australian citizenship.
Once their applications are processed, future citizens are then forced to wait even longer for a citizenship ceremony – often one of the most important days in a person’s life.
Labor will always protect Australian citizenship because we know what it means to future citizens who have invested in our country, want to call it home, and share in our collective future.
Of course Australian citizens should understand and accept Australian values. But today’s announcement from the acting Citizenship Minister overlooks the fact that people taking Australian citizenship have already been accepted by the Government as permanent residents and have lived here for years.
What Scott Morrison and his Government should have announced today is a plan to clear the two and a half year backlog of citizenship applications.