Citizenship bill dead in the water with NXT calling for it to be scrapped

‘Our position hasn’t changed,’ Nick Xenophon says, urging the Coalition to ‘go back to the drawing board’

The Turnbull government’s controversial changes to Australia’s citizenship laws remain dead in the water, with the Nick Xenophon Team showing no signs of backing the government’s proposal.

The NXT said in September it could not support the changes, which in their current form include increasing waiting times from one to four years before permanent residents can apply for citizenship, tougher English-language requirements and additional powers for the immigration minister.

Labor and the Greens had already announced their opposition, making the NXT’s three Senate votes crucial.

But the party’s federal leader, Nick Xenophon, said the government needed to scrap the bill and start again.

“Our position hasn’t changed,” he said before the return of parliament on Monday. “We can’t support it in its current form. The bill needs to be redrawn.

“We are willing to sit down with the government and work with them, but this legislation has caused a lot of anxiety among ethnic communities around the country, and while I am sure that wasn’t what was intended, it is not something we can support.”

Xenophon said the party took issue with many elements of the bill, including its retrospective application, its impact on higher education and the English requirements. “The government needs to go back to the drawing board,” he said.

Last month the Greens were successful in passing a motion that set an 18 October deadline for the bill to be debated in the Senate, otherwise it will be struck from the notice paper. The government could move another motion to bring it back but would need support from the crossbench to do so.

Labor thanked the crossbench for helping it get a bill across line in the Senate which aims to help level the playing field for small businesses seeking to take legal action against larger ones.

The legislation would mean that a judge who believes a case has merit could issue, upon request, an order at the start of any court case that a small business would not be made to pay a larger business’s costs.

Labor’s competition and productivity spokesman, Andrew Leigh, said it was a good example of parliamentarians working together and he hoped that cooperation would be seen in the lower house.

“With so much happening every day at parliament, it can be easy to miss the times that politicians work together,” he said. “This bill will help small business take anti-competitive behaviour to court without fearing the deep pockets and high-priced lawyers of big business.”


Amy Remeikis

The GuardianTramp

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