Potential New Bill Could Give Pakistani Cricketer Fawad Ahmed Australian Citizenship
Without mentioning cricketer Fawad Ahmed by name, Australia Immigration Minister Brendan O'Connor introduced a bill to federal parliament that paves the way for Ahmed "to become an Australian citizen before the Ashes," according to Chloe Saltau of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Under proposed amendments to citizenship laws, "the minister would have discretionary powers to fast-track the claims of people whose work benefits Australia, and who cannot meet the normal residency requirements, which dictate they must have been in the country for at least four years." Under the proposed changes, "relaxed residence requirements would apply to Ahmed and others in his position." Applicants must have "spent 180 days in Australia during the previous two years, been a permanent resident for 90 days, and must not have been an unlawful resident at any time during the past 180 days." Cricket Australia would have to provide O'Connor with written assurance that Ahmed has a "reasonable prospect" of playing int'l cricket. National selector John Inverarity has been "effusive in his praise of Ahmed and wants him to join the Australia A squad in England to warm up for the Ashes" (SMH, 5/30).