The majority voted in favour of a motion to agree with the main idea of the bill. In parliamentary jargon, they voted to read the bill for a second time. This means that the House can now discuss the bill in more detail.
What is the bill's main idea?
According to the bills digest, the bill was introduced for many reasons, including to:
- allow the Minister to revoke citizenship on the grounds of fraud or misrepresentation in the citizenship process, without the requirement for a conviction of relevant criminal offences
- extend the good character requirement to include applicants under 18 years of age
- include the bar on approval for criminal offences in all citizenship streams
- include reference to contemporary sentencing practices in the bar on approval for criminal offences
- enable the Minister to cancel approval of citizenship by conferral prior to the Pledge of Commitment if the Minister is satisfied that the applicant is no longer eligible
- allow the Minister to defer the applicant taking the Pledge of Commitment for up to two years and align the grounds for deferral with the grounds for cancellation of approval
- require those who automatically acquire citizenship on adoption in Australia to have commenced the adoption process before turning 18 years of age
- require a standardised 12 month waiting period for resumption of citizenship
- clarify the residence requirements by specifying when the four year lawful period commences and that the 12 month period as a permanent resident must be continuous
- clarify who is covered by the partner discretion in the residence requirement and insert a minimum physical presence requirement for those claiming the partner discretion for absences from Australia
- provide the power to make a legislative instrument setting out when a period of unlawful presence may be treated as lawful presence
- put beyond doubt that children born in Australia to parents with diplomatic and other privileges and immunities are not eligible for Australian citizenship
- provide a discretion to revoke citizenship by descent in place of the current operation of law provision
- limit automatic acquisition of citizenship at ten years of age to those persons who have maintained lawful residence in Australia throughout the ten years
- clarify the provision giving citizenship to a child found abandoned in Australia
- make holders of prescribed visas eligible for citizenship by conferral before entering Australia
- enable use and disclosure of personal information collected about a client under the Migration Act to be used for the purposes of the Citizenship Act and vice versa
- provide that personal decisions made by the Minister, taken in the public interest, are not subject to merits review
- provide the Minister with the power to set aside decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) concerning character and identity if it would be in the public interest to do so
- align access to merits review for conferral applicants under 18 years of age with citizenship eligibility requirements and
- provide that the Australian Citizenship Regulations 2007 (the Citizenship Regulations) may confer on the Minister the power to make legislative instruments.