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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 1625

Senator MARTIN(11.19) —I take issue with some of the things that Senator Macklin said. I noticed when re-reading Mr Macphee's speech of 6 May 1982 that he said:

The requirement that an applicant possess an adequate knowledge of English is a controversial issue but should not be so. The Government believes that a basic proficiency in English is necessary . . .

So there can be that sort of confusion about 'adequate' and 'basic'. However, in relation to a proficiency in English being necessary Mr Macphee went on to say:

. . . to fulfil the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Included in these rights and responsibilities are jury service, the right to stand for elective office and the right to vote. It is surely incontestable that these rights can only be exercised and the responsibilities discharged when an effective knowledge of English is possessed.

Mr Macphee, the then Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs, went on to say :

The Australian second language proficiency rating scale developed for the Adult Migrant Education Program offers a simple method of conducting such assessments.

He also went on to say that, for certain ages and in certain circumstances, exemptions ought to be granted. We have no problem with those sorts of exemptions. We are concerned that there be an objective, measurable test. It may be that the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs has some other test that is objective and measurable. We are just asking that it apply the test it already has available to it. We believe the appropriate test is ALSPR Level 1+, speaking and listening.