Test Will Include Christian Heritage

Test will include Christian heritage

Connie Levett
The Sydney Morning Herald
July 24, 2007

THE compulsory citizenship test that measures understanding of Australian values will include questions on Australia's Judaeo-Christian background, as well as its geography and the colour of the flag.

With the citizenship resource manual due for release soon, the Immigration Department's senior official, Andrew Metcalfe, has confirmed that would-be citizens should expect questions on Australia's post-1788 religious heritage. Christian groups had lobbied the Government to acknowledge this background in its primer on what defines Australia and being Australian.

“I think without doubt you can ultimately trace our values and beliefs back to the body of knowledge that derives from the Old Testament and upon which the Judaeo-Christian background is based,” Mr Metcalfe recently told a hearing of the Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

“We are talking about questions that go to Australia, our values, our history, our geography, our political system and national symbols,” Mr Metcalfe said. “Part of Australia, its values and its history would go to our belief system, so I imagine that that is an area that would be covered in the resource book.”

The Minister for Immigration, Kevin Andrews, spoke of how “British settlers of Australia brought with them the Anglo-Celtic principles and traditions of Christianity, the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment” in May when he spoke to Parliament about the new law.

The Labor senator Annette Hurley told Mr Metcalfe that government secrecy had created “a bit of a climate of uncertainty for people who are considering citizenship”.

The test will require applicants to answer 20 multiple-choice questions, including three that relate specifically to national values. While the test's pass rate is 60 per cent, applicants must get all three “Australian values” questions right to pass. There is no limit to the number of times applicants can sit the test.

The questions will come from a pool of about 200 confidential questions, drawn from information in the citizenship resource book.

“We need to make sure that people are not only familiar with Australia and our values, but also able to understand and appreciate the commitment they are required to make,” Mr Andrews said in May.