By Ram Khatry, Sydney
10 July 2017
Lisa Singh, considered to be the first woman of South Asian descent to be elected to the Australian Parliament, has drawn on her own family history to oppose Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed changes to citizenship laws.
In a social media status posted Monday morning, the Labor Senator for Tasmania said her father himself would probably fail the “university level test” proposed by the government. Ms Singh’s Fiji-Indian father arrived in the country in 1963 as an international student.
Since he arrived in Australia, her father “has worked hard to contribute to the Australian community”, she pointed out, indicating that the proposed “unprecedented and unfair” changes would have probably kept him from taking the citizenship pledge.
In 11 hours since it was posted, the status has attracted over 200 likes, 22 shares and a dozen comments.
Commenting on the post of the winner of Pravasi Bharatiya Samman which was conferred on her by President of India in 2014, Facebook user Sandeep Kumar asked why he should have to prove his “English capability” after living in Australia for over 10 years, especially because he already passed IELTs when applied for permanent residency.
He went on to add, “..this is so unfair and the reasons mr Peter dutton explained were not satisfactory to anyone.” (sic)
“Labor is voting against these changes and is supporting communities to help stop them and to protect Australian citizenship,” Ms Singh further wrote in her Facebook status.
Providing a link to the Parliament of Australia website, she called on all to share their stories and tell how the proposed changes to citizenship law will affect communities. Submissions can be made until July 21.
On June 22, the Senate referred the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 for inquiry and report by 4 September 2017.
Increasing permanent residency requirement from one to four years and tougher English-language test are probably the most talked-about aspects of the proposed changes, specially among migrant communities. At least that’s what scores of Facebook posts on the subject suggest.