English requirements plan for partner visas ‘smacks of racism’, says Labor


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 12 October 2020: The Labor Party today came down heavily on the Morrison Govt’s Budget 2020-21 plan to have English requirements from next year for a spouse visa and those applying for it. Using strong words Labor’s Shadow Minister For Multicultural Affairs and Shadow Minister Assisting for Immigration and Citizenship Mr. Andrew Giles MP today said, it “smacks of racism”. He was speaking at a Virtual Zoom press conference for multicultural media along with Deputy Labor leader in the Senate, Senator Kristina Keneally.

“What business is it Minister Tudge or Mr. Morrison to say you can meet someone and seek to form a life with them in Australia if they come from a country where English is spoken, but not if they don’t. It seems to me to be an extraordinary proposition that’s entirely inconsistent with how this country has been built, entirely disrespectful to the contributions of hundreds of thousands of Australians.

A few days back the Acting Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge in a multicultural media conference said, ” The success of Australia has been built on inviting people to our shores and migrants becoming central to Australian life. But you can really only be central to Australian life if you can fully participate in it. You can only fully participate in it if you at least have a basic grasp of English.

The issue is we want people to have a real go trying to learn English before they put their application in and demonstrated they’ve had a proper go, then that visa will be granted, as long as the other checks are assured as well.”

In her remarks, Kristina Keneally said, ” Now under the Liberals, there are currently 100,000 people on a waiting list for a partner visa. That’s 100,000 partner visa applications sitting in the Department of Home Affairs. This is 100,000 Australians and their partners who are waiting for the opportunity to begin or to continue their lives with their loved ones in Australia.

Now Australians and their partners, their husbands and their wives, can’t put down roots, get jobs, buy homes or build communities in Australia because of the Morrison Government’s go-slow partner visa processing.”

“This English language test for partner visas smacks of racism. And if that was the Government’s intent, well, shame on them. If it’s a mistake by the Government, then they should fix it immediately and they should scrap this policy of imposing an English language test on partner visas, ” she said.

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