Senate debates

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Questions without Notice


2:07 pm

Photo of Michaelia CashMichaelia Cash (WA, Liberal Party, Minister for Women) Share this | Hansard source

I thank Senator Hume for the very important question. Australian citizenship is a great privilege, and it is something that we should all value and not take for granted. The government's package of reforms to strengthen the test for Australian citizenship has widespread support, and includes some very important measures to ensure that people demonstrate integration into the Australian community and an understanding of Australian values of respect, equality and freedom.

Unfortunately, to respond to Senator Hume's very important question, I think we are all now aware of alternative approaches to these very sensible reforms. Today, the Australian Labor Party and Mr Shorten, in typical fashion, have confirmed that they have caved to the left wing of the Australian Labor Party in a desperate effort to appeal to Greens voters. Through you, Mr President, Mr Shorten's extraordinary backflip in relation to the government citizenship changes shows that, quite frankly—through you, Mr President—he is a weak leader who is not able to put our national interest first. Who can recall that, but a few weeks ago, on 21 April 2017, Mr Shorten, when he heard about the changes, was initially supportive of them. In fact, he said:

… if there is a discussion about making sure that prospective citizens have got a reasonable grasp of English, well, that's fair enough.

He further went on to say:

If they want to have a discussion about waiting times before you become an Australian citizen, well we will hear the detail of that.

The bad news is he then heard the detail about Mr Albanese and the fact that Mr Albanese wants to be the Leader of the Opposition. So it is quite clear that Mr Shorten has now backflipped to protect his own interests instead of putting the national interest first.


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