Give examples of freedom of speech? Is Aussie government secular? Do men and women have equal rights? Should people in Australia make an effort to learn English?
These are some of the seemingly innocuous questions to be added to the Australian Citizenship to test from 15 November to assess new citizens’ values which were announced on Thursday to coincide with Australian Citizenship Day.
Acting Immigration Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge told the multicultural press that the changes were not “to put up hurdles as such, but because we want people to study and to deeply understand what Australia’s system of government is about and what our core values are”.
Immigration lawyer Joseph Italiano told Neos Kosmos that it’s all quite “superficial and insincere”, and he believes that you can’t instill “values by box ticking”.
“I can tick a box, but it doesn’t mean I won’t bash my wife,” Mr Italiano said. “What you need isn’t multiple choice questions but consequences that certain behaviours in, say Somalia, concerning the treatment of women and children are not acceptable here.”
Andrew Giles MP, Immigration and Citizenship Shadow Minister, told Neos Kosmos that Australian citizens “should understand and accept Australian values” but the new questions overlook the fact that “people taking Australian citizenship have already been accepted by the Government as permanent residents and have lived here for years”.
Do the questions manage to sort out the bad seeds from the rest? Minister Tudge responded to a question by Neos Kosmos regarding the thought process behind the development of the questions. “So, we’ve got advice, Mary, from the Australian Council of Education Research, along with the department who developed these questions, but based on those core liberal democratic values that I was articulating previously,” he said, adding that the questions seem straightforward but not every country in the world shares the values.
“The test itself is the tool to encourage people to study the book and understand our values. That’s ultimately what we want people to do, is to deeply understand those Australian values before they pledge their full loyalty to Australia. That’s the key objective and the test is the mechanism to encourage that,” he said.
Mr Italiano said that unlimited classes were introduced, but “why not add civics education along with English if you’re serious about instilling values?”
Mr Giles saw the announcement of the new test as a missed opportunity for a different more substantial announcement.
“What Scott Morrison and his Government should have announced today is a plan to clear the two and a half-year backlog of citizenship applications,” Mr Giles said.
Can you pass the twenty multiple choice questions of the new citizenship test? An updated version of the Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond resource is now available for download to assist people to prepare for the test. This includes information on the new Australian values component and an updated practice test.