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Parliamentary Secretary discusses introducing a compulsory citizenship test.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Department of the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in any other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

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AM

 

Friday 28 April 2006

Parliamentary Secretary discusses introducing a compulsory citizenship test

 

ELIZABETH JACKSON: The Federal Government is considering introducing a compulsory citizenship test. 

 

Such a test would require aspiring Australians to have more than a basic level of English and a general knowledge of the country's values and customs. 

 

The Federal Opposition supports the idea, but would like to know who will define "Australian" values. 

 

Dhana Quinn reports. 

 

DHANA QUINN: What does it mean to be Australian? 

 

Well those who wish to become Australian citizens could be forced to take a test and answer that exact question. 

 

Speaking at the Sydney Institute last night, the Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Robb, outlined a proposal for a compulsory citizenship test. 

 

He says to pass such a test, would-be-citizens would have to have, not a basic, but a functional level of English and a knowledge of Australian values. 

 

ANDREW ROBB: The whole point of the looking at the citizenship test, and that's what I am at the moment, just looking at it, is to see if there are even better ways of becoming good at integrating people from the four corners of the world into our community. 

 

DHANA QUINN: As is stands now, those who want to become citizens must speak and understand basic English. They also have to attend an interview where they're asked about the responsibilities and privileges of being Australian.  

 

To add a compulsory test to the process is an idea which Labor supports, as long as there's a discussion about what are "Australian" values. 

 

Opposition Spokeswoman for Citizenship, Annette Hurley. 

 

ANNETTE HURLEY: We'd need to look at who is going to decide what will be in the test, what consultation there will be, and how the test will be assessed. 

 

DHANA QUINN: Earlier this year, the Treasurer Peter Costello spoke about citizenship and singled out Muslim immigrants, saying they needed to uphold Australian values. 

 

This time, however, Andrew Robb says the discussion about a citizenship test is not aimed at any particular migrant group. 

 

ANDREW ROBB: The citizenship issue was related to a combination of challenges and was not something that tonight I referred to in the context directly of the Muslim community. 

 

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Andrew Robb, the Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and
Multicultural Affairs.