Thursday, 12 November 2020
I, and on behalf of Senators Faruqi, McKim and Rice, move:
That the Senate agrees that:
(a) Australia is a multicultural, multilingual society in which hundreds of languages are spoken;
(b) at least 250 Indigenous languages were spoken on this continent long before colonisation, and many continue to be spoken today;
(c) the Australian citizenship booklet 'Our common bond' contains claims that English is Australia's national language, which have been repeated by the acting Immigration Minister in advocating for onerous new English language proficiency requirements for partner visa applicants and permanent resident sponsors; and
(d) Australia has no national language.
by leave—I move the amendment as circulated in the chamber in the name of Senator Keneally:
Omit paragraph (d), substitute:
(d) English is the de facto national language but Australians speak many languages at home and at work.
Question agreed to.
On behalf of the government, I want to put on the record that English is Australia's national language. Without English, it is harder to get a job, harder to integrate into the community and harder to participate in our democracy. Australians and the Australian government value the hundreds of other languages spoken in our country, but they recognise the English language as the basis of Australia's success as a cohesive, multicultural society. This motion once again illustrates the inappropriateness of dealing with complex policy issues in a single vote, without amendment or debate, denying almost all senators the opportunity to explain their positions before going to a vote.