Long queues for mi­grants

The Courier-Mail - - NEWS - EX­CLU­SIVE CINDY WOCK­NER

THE num­ber of Aus­tralian Cit­i­zen­ship ap­pli­ca­tions queued up at Im­mi­gra­tion has blown out to more than 200,000, with peo­ple now be­ing forced to wait al­most 18 months to have their ap­pli­ca­tions fi­nalised.

Sources have told The Courier-Mail that peo­ple who first lodged their ap­pli­ca­tions 16 months ago, back in April last year, are only now be­ing in­ter­viewed by of­fi­cials.

And it’s es­ti­mated that they would not get to a cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony any time be­fore next year.

Rev­e­la­tion of the ex­tent of the back­log places fur­ther pres­sure on the al­ready em­bat­tled Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter a Peter Dut­ton, who over­saw the Im­mi­gra­tion De­part­ment from De­cem­ber 2014 un­til last month’s lead­er­ship coup and who is em­broiled in a se­nate in­quiry into his de­ci­sion to grant visas to for­eign au pairs.

Un­der Mr Dut­ton’s reign the num­ber of cit­i­zen­ship ap­pli­ca­tions await­ing ad­ju­di­ca­tion jumped from just 22,952 in the 2014-2015 year to 242,606 in the fi­nan­cial year just gone.

In July, the Im­mi­gra­tion De­part­ment claimed on­line that 75 per cent of ap­pli­ca­tions are pro­cessed within 15 months and 90 per cent within 17 months.

The Gov­ern­ment says there has been a 176.9 per cent in­crease in ap­pli­ca­tions in the years from 2010-11 to the past fi­nan­cial year and says the de­lays are a re­sult of this and an in­creased fo­cus on in­tegrity in as­sess­ing ap­pli­ca­tions.

Shadow Min­is­ter for Cit­i­zen­ship and Mul­ti­cul­tural Aus­tralia Tony Burke says the Gov­ern­ment must ur­gently ex­plain what is be­ing done clear the back­log.

Com­mu­nity and Pub­lic Ser­vice Union deputy na­tional pres­i­dent Lisa New­man said: “The sorry state of visa and cit­i­zen­ship is due to im­mi­gra­tion staff be­ing cut at a time when the de­part­ment has never been so busy.”

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