But the critical parliamentary powerbroker on the controversial citizenship overhaul, the Nick Xenophon Team, is signalling the rework will need to be more broad-ranging than just the language test.
“There are so many components of this whole package that are a problem,” the NXT senator Stirling Griff told Guardian Australia on Tuesday. “Our position hasn’t changed at all.
“Peter Dutton needs to go back to the drawing board.”
Last week, the Senate gave Dutton four sitting days to put his controversial citizenship bill up for debate, otherwise it would be struck from the notice paper.
The procedural pincer movement in the parliament came less than a week after the Nick Xenophon Team derailed Dutton’s attempt to enact the citizenship package, saying it could not support it in its current form.
The government does not currently have the numbers to get its citizenship overhaul – which has been badged politically as a national security measure – through the parliament.
It has been unclear how the government would respond to the current parliamentary deadlock – whether it would pull the whole package, or negotiate – but Dutton on Tuesday signalled for the first time he was prepared to negotiate.
Asked whether he was prepared to overhaul the English-language test, which currently requires a university standard of language fluency, Dutton told Sky News: “Of course we are flexible.”
The minister said he was talking with Nick Xenophon in an effort to reach a compromise. Dutton described the dialogue with the NXT as “constructive”.
The government needs the NXT bloc because both Labor and the Greens are opposed to the package.
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