Labor has called for the Turnbull government to admit defeat on its controversial tightening of Australian citizenship laws, demanding the immigration department process applicants under the existing protocols.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton in April announced an overhaul of the citizenship process, including a tough English language test and the requirement for applicants to spend four years as permanent residents.
But the bill is poised for defeat in the Senate, where it is staunchly opposed by Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team, who together hold enough votes to block the legislation.
Despite the measures not yet being law, prospective Australian citizens are informed the changes will be backdated to April 20, when the policy was announced. All applications since April 20 are being processed under the new rules.
"At the moment the department has adopted administrative processes as though the legislation had already passed. If the bill is defeated in the Senate, this must stop immediately," Mr Burke will tell ethnic community leaders.
"We are not talking about tax laws. We are talking about the laws that define what it is to be Australian. Without the authority of the Parliament, the department must return to processing applications under current law. And it must do so immediately after the Senate votes."
Mr Dutton has said he is continuing to negotiate with crossbenchers, but NXT senator Stirling Griff told Fairfax Media on Sunday the NXT had had no further discussions about the bill and its opposition is unchanged.
The NXT also agreed to a motion giving the government just three more parliamentary sitting days to bring the bill to a vote – otherwise it will be struck off. That gives the government a deadline of October 18.
A spokesperson for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection would not speculate on the bill's fate, but said applicants would be kept informed of the implementation of the proposed measures and any additional information or documentation that may be required.
The citizenship issue is a vexed one for Labor, which is keen not to be seen as a soft touch on immigration. Bill Shorten initially said the measures proposed by Mr Dutton sounded "reasonable", but later changed tack to oppose them.
Mr Burke will on Monday describe the proposals as a "political strategy" by the government that is 40 years out of date.
"Multicultural Australia is no longer a subset of the nation," he will say. "In the past a toughening of citizenship or immigration laws allowed ministers to claim they were defending Australia. The Turnbull-Dutton proposals are a rejection of modern Australia."
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