Wide Support For Citizenship Test: Robb

Wide support for citizenship test: Robb
October 23, 2006 – 1:19PM
The Age (Melbourne)

The federal MP behind a proposal for a citizenship test for people seeking to become Australians says the idea is getting widespread support.

Speaking after a citizenship ceremony in Melbourne, Parliamentary Secretary to the Immigration Minister Andrew Robb said he was encouraged by the responses he had received so far.

A discussion paper on the idea has so far received more than 600 submissions since September 17, he said.

“There is a lot of support for it as I move around the community for consultations,” Mr Robb said.

“Some people don't agree but a lot of people do. I think we saw recently a poll where 77 per cent of the population thought the proposal was commonsense.

“We are getting lots of responses. We want people to participate and give lots of ideas. The responses I am getting anecdotally as I move around the country have been very encouraging, but I don't want to pre-empt.”

Forty-three people who came to Australia as refugees became citizens during Monday's ceremony, which coincided with the beginning of national Refugee Week.

Among them was Clement Laila, 33, from Sudan who told AAP he supported the notion of a citizenship test.

“Australia may bring someone who stays here for 10 years and they still can't speak English,” Mr Laila said.

“It is ridiculous. I support an English test. Not a history test though, maybe general knowledge … many people don't even know the prime minister of this country.”

But Mary Sunday, 33, married to Mr Laila, thought the test could be unfair.

“I don't think it is a good idea, because if they want to bring people here on humanitarian grounds, there is no need for them to have a test,” Ms Sunday said.

Public submissions on the discussion paper end on November 17 and Mr Robb said detailed analysis of the responses would be made after that date.