GROWING QUESTIONS THAT THE MINISTER MUST ANSWER REGARDING CITIZENSHIP DELAYS

It has recently been revealed by Fairfax Media that there is a shocking blowout in the queue of Australian permanent residents waiting to become citizens since the Liberals were elected. Labor has been pursuing this issue for some time in Senate estimates and in Parliament and the latest figures reveal an incredible 801% blowout in the queue.

Information obtained from the Department of Home Affairs shows that the backlog of Australian permanent residents stuck, their lives in limbo, has ballooned to a record high of 242,606 people. As reported, there are also mysterious changes in approval rates for certain groups that the Minister must explain – everyone living in Australia has a right to be treated fairly under the law.

For example for Australian permanent residents who were born in China:
· in the last five years there was a 72% average approval rate, as compared to applications lodged, yet
· the available data for 2017/18 shows approvals have suddenly plummeted with less than 20% approved as compared to applications lodged.

Despite the mounting evidence that something is seriously amiss, the Minister continues to hide with no adequate explanation as to the growing queue and delays. Last week in a train wreck interview on ABC radio the Minister first tried to claim there was a “massive spike in applications over the last few years”.

Yet that’s just not true: the official data shows a steady, normal increase on average over five years of 7.3% each year. The only spike is in the queue of people in the black hole of the department. Since the 2016 Federal Election alone this is a 428% increase in the queue despite only a 21% increase in the number of applications lodged.

Over the last four years, the number of applications for citizenship lodged by humanitarian arrivals has dropped 21%, and in 2017/18 only 3.9% of conferrals approved were for humanitarian arrivals. The scandal is growing, communities are hurting and the minister must explain what he will do to fix it.