Australia Current Affairs

Australia announces sweeping changes to Citizenship laws

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has made sweeping changes to Citizenship laws unveiling tighter requirements for new applicants. This announcement follows the recent scrapping of the 457 visa program for foreign workers, which was used majorly by the Indians. The 457 programme was scrapped to tackle the growing unemployment in the country.

Salient highlights

As per the new requirement, applicants for obtaining citizenship must be permanent residents for at least four years, which is three years longer than the present requirement.

The applicants must be committed to embrace “Australian values” and respect the country’s laws. The applicant should not have got involved in criminal activity, including family violence or involvement in organised crime, which is thoroughly inconsistent with Australian values.

The applicants have to pass a standalone English test which will focus heavily on respect for women and children.  English language proficiency test is meant for economic participation and integration into the Australian community and social cohesion.

The number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship is determined as three. At present, there is no restriction on the number of times an applicant can fail. In addition, applicants will be automatically disqualified if they are found cheating during the citizenship test.

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Mass coral bleaching occurring in Great Barrier Reef for second year

Great Barrier Reef in Australia’s eastern coast is experiencing an unprecedented second straight year of mass coral bleaching. This is for the first time Great Barrier Reef has bleached two years in sequence.

Earlier in March and April 2016, 2,300-km reef suffered had its most severe bleaching on record due to warming sea temperatures. 

Key Facts
  • Coral Bleaching occurs when abnormal environmental conditions, such as warmer sea temperatures, cause corals to expel tiny photosynthetic algae, draining them of their colour.
  • The 2016 bleaching was more severe in the northern areas of the bio-diverse site. But now more bleaching was being observed in the central part of the reef, which earlier had escaped widespread severe bleaching.
  • The back-to-back occurrence of widespread bleaching is resulting in decrease in stress tolerance of these corals, which means that they may not fully recover.

About the Great Barrier Reef

It is the biggest coral reef system in the world composed of over 2,900 individual reefs. It was recorded as a World Heritage site in 1981. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, north east of Australia and covers an area of approximately 348,000 sq km. It is credited as the world’s biggest single structure made by living organisms and is visible from the outer space.

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