Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton has work to do to get his proposed changes to citizenship laws through the parliament.
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton has work to do to get his proposed changes to citizenship laws through the parliament. MICK TSIKAS

Labor slams Libs for act of 'snobbery'

MALCOLM Turnbull and Peter Dutton have been accused of a "bizarre act of snobbery” for asking new Australian citizens to have a university-level grasp of English.

The Prime Minister is facing a major fight on proposed changes to the nation's citizenship test after federal Labor MPs unanimously agreed yesterday to block the laws.

Labor is also calling for a Senate inquiry into the citizenship law changes.

Opposition multicultural spokesman Tony Burke slammed the government for attempting to frame the laws as a way to tackle national security concerns.

He also said the laws weren't patriotic.

"I think you could only support legislation of this nature if you were pretty unimpressed with modern Australia,” Mr Burke said.

"To define people being unimpressed with modern Australia as 'a form of patriotism', I find odd.”

Mr Burke also said the proposed English language requirements for new citizens were elitist.

"A very large number of Australians will never reach the level of English that's being demanded by this test,” he said.

"A very large number of people who are born here will never reach the level of English in this test.

"What sort of snobbery leads a government to say 'unless you reach university level of English, we'd rather you weren't here'.

"That's not just an argument to potential citizens.

"That's an argument to a whole range of Australians who don't get their personal literacy in English all the way up to university entrance level.

"And that, in a bizarre act of snobbery, is where Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull have landed.”

Labor also has concerns the proposed laws require migrants to be permanent residents for four years before they can apply for citizenship.

"How can it be good for Australia to be further delaying whether or not someone takes allegiance to this country,” Mr Burke said.

Earlier, Immigration Minister Dutton said, "The vast majority of Australians support the sensible changes we're proposing.”



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