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Citizenship test: a waste of money on double standards.



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Media Statement Thursday 18th May 2007

SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT Queensland Democrat Senator QUEENSLAND’S ONLY INDEPENDENT VOICE IN THE SENATE

Citizenship Test: A waste of money on double standards Democrats’ Deputy Leader, Senator Andrew Bartlett, says the government’s new citizenship test is a waste of money that does little more than inflict double-standards on migrants.

“The Budget revealed that one hundred and twenty-three million dollars is being spent on this citizenship test, including ten million dollars for ‘Australian values statements’ and over six million for an ‘Australian way of life booklet’,” Senator Bartlett said

“If the government was genuine about encouraging migrants to integrate and participate fully in Australian society, it would be spending this money on widening settlement assistance and support for migrants, rather than wasting it on jingoistic propaganda.”

“We have a very large and continually increasing number of people coming to live in Australia each year, and our settlement support services have not kept pace with this.

“I call on the Minister to scrap this ideologically-driven nonsense and put the resources into expanding settlement assistance for the hundreds of thousands of people who receive residency rights in Australia each year.

“The examples of test questions which have been released contain many questions which many Australian-born people would not be able to answer correctly.

“This expensive, unnecessary test is clearly aimed at pushing political buttons in an election year, not assisting with the integration of migrants.

“It is blatant double standards and pointlessly divisive to require migrants to have to meet citizenship criteria which many Australian-born people will not be able to meet.

“The government has said the citizenship test ‘will assist people wishing to become Australian Citizens to maximise the opportunities available to them in Australia and contribute to Australia’s future success as a nation’.

“This is just nonsensical propaganda. Making people take a multiple choice trivial pursuit style quiz does not help ‘maximise the opportunities available to them’. Opportunities for migrants are maximised through better settlement assistance and clear adherence to the basic principle that people who are migrants have equal value and rights like every other member of the community," Senator Bartlett concluded.

Media contact - Tracee McPate - 0417 607 655

Electoral office: Suite 14 B1, 7/421 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006 t: 07 3252 7101 local call cost (Qld): 1300 301 879 f: 07 3252 8957 e: senator.bartlett@aph.gov.au web: www.andrewbartlett.com