Migrants to sit English exams
December 11, 2006
New migrants will have to sit English exams and commit to following Australian laws under a new citizenship test being introduced by the federal government.
Prime Minister John Howard today said the tests would apply to all new migrants who apply to become Australian citizens after being in Australia for four years.
He said the tests, which require migrants to not only speak English but also be aware of Australian values, were not designed to be discriminatory.
“It is not designed in any way to keep some people out,” Mr Howard told reporters.
“It is designed not as some kind of Trivial Pursuit, but it is designed to ensure that people understand and have a working capacity in the national language, which is English.
“It will be similar in, I guess, design, although not in detail, to the citizenship tests of many other countries.”
The new rules will mean prospective Australian citizens will have to sit an internet-based test to demonstrate their knowledge of the English language and Australia.
They will also have to sign a statement saying they are aware of and understand Australian social values including freedom of religion, equality of men and women, a commitment to obeying local laws and a respect for individual freedom.
Mr Howard said cabinet had approved the plans and legislation would be drawn up to pave the way for the new tests for prospective Australian citizens.
Any new migrant aged between 18 and 60 who wants to become an Australian citizen will have to sit the test.
Details of the exam are still to be worked out, but those sitting the test will be asked 30 multiple choice questions randomly chosen from a selection of 200.
The test will examine an applicant's English language skills as well as their knowledge of Australian history, culture and values.
The new test is being introduced after Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration Andrew Robb released a discussion paper in September outlining various possible requirements for new Australian citizens.
Mr Robb today said once a migrant passes the citizenship test, they will have to sign a commitment to Australian values, way of life and laws.
Before leaving their home countries, migrants will be given material outlining the values and laws of Australia.
Temporary residents staying in Australia for more than 12 months will also have to make a commitment to respect and follow Australian laws as well as understand local values and the way of life.
Mr Robb said migrants could sit the test as many times as they needed to, and anyone found to be illiterate could apply to be assessed in different ways.
“It's one in, all in,” he said.
“Everyone who comes and seeks citizenship, no matter whether it's from the UK or anywhere else, everyone will sit the test.”
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