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Civics & citizenship report

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and Ethnic

Affairs MEDIA.

Senator Jim Short.

Shadow Mster for Immigration N A A

Assisting the Leader on Multicultural Affairs:

IMEA 51/94


The Civics Expert Group (CEG) report is a welcome addition to the important national debate on the meaning and understanding of Australian citizenship.

The Coalition has long supported the need to increase community awareness of our national institutions, heritage, Constitution and processes of government. We therefore agree with the report's key recommendation that there is a need for greater education and information on our system of government, citizenship and related civics issues.

It was disappointing that the report did not even acknowledge, let alone concur with, the Coalition's public statements addressing this matter.

In The Things That Matter the Coalition announced its intention to introduce citizenship courses. We are pleased to see the CEG has recommended the same approach.

We are however, concerned about its proposal for this process to provide "non-partisan presentation of current topical issues". These courses should not be used for advancing particular political or community agendas. The courses can only ensure a non-partisan role if they refrain from entering topical debates and expressing views on current or future political


We believe these courses should concentrate on increasing citizens awareness and understanding of our laws. Constitution, system of government, and political heritage. These should all be presentedin a factual rather than interpretive way. It should. not be forgotten that these courses are primarily designed to educate citizens so they can make informed

decisions on political, legal or Constitutional proposals. Australians do not need Prime Minister Keating's, or even Professor Macintyre's, views and interpretations of our political system and history, or the appropriateness of our Constitutional arrangements.

It is essential that any final propositions put forward by the CEG do not allow politics to tarnish an otherwise very worthwhile, and long overdue, development in raising Australians' awareness of civics and citizenship. - -

8 December 1994 Canberra Senator Short contact:(06)277-3119