The rising cost of citizenship

Councillors agreed at a meeting on April 1 to send Deputy Mayor Dot Newton’s proposal to the Australian Local Government Association for consideration at the 2014 National General Assembly of Local Government.

Chief executive Daniel Simms, in a report, said the City had processed about 7000 new citizens in the last six years. About 2000 more became Australian citizens at a special Australia Day 2014 function.

Because of demand from a rapidly growing area, the City had to offer more ceremonies, funding the extra costs from existing budgets.

‘This has become a national issue due to the sheer numbers of people taking up Australian citizenship,’ he said.

‘Although the Federal Government has put in place a mechanism to recoup some of their costs, this has not been passed on to local government, which then holds the ceremony and presents certificates to our new Australians.’

Cr Newton said the cost of becoming a citizen had gradually increased over the years; it now cost $260 to sit the citizenship test. She suggested a formula of so much per certificate as recompense for councils providing the ceremonies.

Cr Frank Cvitan said the City’s ceremonies were ‘booked out’ to the end of the year and beyond.

‘The cost impost on us is much greater and should be shared,’ he said.

Cr Brett Treby said ratepayers bore the cost.

‘Even $10 of that $260 would go a long way to helping us meet that cost on behalf of ratepayers,’ he said.