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Australia unveils major changes to citizenship process

Australia unveils major changes to citizenship process

In an extraordinary piece of timing, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement came hours before US President Donald Trump prepared to unveil a "buy American, hire American" executive order that will crack down on guest worker visas and require more US goods to be purchased locally - putting in to practice the "America First" rhetoric of the presidential election.

"If we believe that respect for women and children [is an Australian value]. then why should that not be made a key part, a fundamental part, a very prominent part, of our process to be an Australian citizen?"

Would-be Australians will face tough new hurdles - including a new English language and "Australian values" test - and have to wait several more years before being eligible for citizenship, under a major shake-up of the migration program.

"Citizenship is at the heart of our national identity. We must ensure that our citizenship programme is conducted in our national interest", he added.

"Any conduct that is inconsistent with Australian values will be considered as part of this process", he said.

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The authorities have stepped up compliance scrutiny but the country's foreign-exchange policies haven't changed, she said. China's improving economy has helped support the currency even as the USA central bank raises interest rates, Wang said.

Applicants will also have to demonstrate they have attempted to integrate into Australian society, providing evidence of a job, the enrolment of their children in school, and even membership of community organisations.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said there would be greater police checks on citizenship applicants and perpetrators of domestic violence should be disqualified.

"Our government has stopped boats, got kids out of detention, cancelled visas of criminals, closed down Labours dodgy 457 programme and now we are modernising the pathway to citizenship", he said.

"What we are doing is strengthening our multicultural society and strengthening our values".

There will be a new requirement to provide documentation that people who can work are working or in education, are complying with welfare access, and are "properly paying taxes".

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Applicants must also have completed four years as a permanent resident - three years longer than at present.

Until June, the public will be able to add their own ideas on how Australian values might be tested, before the proposals go before parliament.

Earlier this week, Mr Turnbull said a temporary work visa popular with foreigners would be abolished.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Wednesday said the 457 changes were "already unravelling", pointing to an analysis by the ALP that showed just 8.6 per cent of people now on foreign worker visas were working in jobs that would be excluded under the new visa system.

The main countries from which 457 visa holders come are India, Britain, China and Ireland.

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Republicans condemned the plan, saying the state's transportation taxes and fees were already among the highest in the country. Therefore, every Democrat must vote yes except one in the Assembly - and possibly one in the Senate, depending on Cannella.

8 per cent respectively, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported.

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