Reports that the government’s controversial citizenship bill being dead may have been exaggerated. Peter Dutton’s plans to introduce further restrictions to the citizenship granting process – including increasing the difficulty of the English language test – were believed to be shelved for good, after failing to pass through the senate, but now Minister of Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs is reviving the proposal of a tough language test for migrants aiming to acquire Australian citizenship.
In a keynote speech, delivered on Wednesday at the Menzies Research Centre in Sydney, Mr Tudge claimed that Australia’s multiculturalism model should not be taken for granted and is at risk.
“Indeed, there is emerging evidence that we are not integrating as well as what we have done in the past,” the Minister said. “Moreover, there are external factors that weren’t present even a decade ago that make integration more challenging.”
Mr Tudge, who took over the citizenship portfolio in December’s ministerial reshuffle, claimed that recent research shows migrants who spoke English very well were 3.7 times more likely to be employed in 18 months after arrival than those who had poor English.
“This is particularly the case where the concentration of overseas born in particular suburbs is aligned with a considerable absence of English being spoken or understood,” he said.
Mr Tudge’s speech echoed some of the arguments presented by his immediate superior, Minister of Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, who expressed his commitment to reintroduce the strict language proficiency prerequisite in the citizenship process, in a speech at the National Press Club. Migrant advocacy groups have expressed their opposition to such policies, deeming them as relics of ‘White Australia’, failing to do justice to the diversity of Multi-Cultural Australia.