MEDIA RELEASE - TURNBULL GOVERNMENT MUST HELP WITH BLACKTOWN COUNCIL CITIZENSHIP CEREMONIES - 7 MARCH 2017

Federal Member for Greenway, Michelle Rowland MP, has written to the Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, about the unacceptable delays being faced by local residents who are waiting for an invitation to attend a citizenship ceremony and make their Australian Citizenship pledge. 

“Every week my office is contacted by residents who have been approved for their citizenship, but are yet to receive an invitation to a ceremony,” Ms Rowland said. 

“This is not the fault of Blacktown City Council. They are doing their best to meet the ever growing demand for these ceremonies in our community.

“The Council holds a citizenship ceremony 11 times a year where 180 candidates are invited to officially become an Australian citizen. At the moment the Council spends $25,000 of ratepayer money each year on citizenship ceremonies alone. That’s $100,000 over the course of a council term.

“The Council receives no financial support or logistical help for these ceremonies. This is leaving local people who have past all the relevant tests, met all the requirements and demonstrated why they would make great Australians, waiting for the formality of a citizenship ceremony.

“Despite the Council’s best efforts there are still over 1,200 residents on their waiting list. This is means people who are ready to make a commitment to our country and become an Australian are facing unacceptable long delays.

“In 2015 the Council held a super ceremony for 500 new citizens to help reduce the waiting list, but with the population growing so quickly in our area he list has understandably blown out again.

“The Minister’s department needs to step in and take some responsibility for this delay.

“I have asked them to consider conducting another super citizenship ceremony, or a number of smaller ceremonies, to assist Blacktown City Council and ensure people who are ready and waiting to become Australians can do so.

“Local residents shouldn’t be made to wait for their citizenship just because they live in a fast growing area. The department needs to help out Blacktown Council and the more than 1,200 local residents who are ready and willing to become citizens of our wonderful country.

“Attending citizenship ceremonies is one of the most uplifting parts of my job. It’s such a special thing to welcome people who have made the choice to become an Australian. They deserve to be able to officially become a citizen as soon as they possibly can be,” Ms Rowland said.