Australia To Review Citizenship Test: Report

Australia to review citizenship test: report

January 2, 2008

SYDNEY (AFP) Australia will review its controversial citizenship test on national history and values after more than one in five migrants failed to pass it, a report said Wednesday.

The test, introduced last year by the government of former prime minister John Howard, asks potential Australians 20 multiple-choice questions on local culture at the same time as assessing English proficiency.

But of the 10,636 people who have sat the test since it began in October, 2,311 have failed to score the 60 percent required to pass, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans told the paper the government would review the test, which covers Australian history, politics and sport, on the basis of the poor results and could make significant changes.

“The citizenship test should be about increasing awareness of citizens' responsibilities and, of course, of the Australian way of life,” he told the paper.

The test, which migrants can sit once they have lived in Australia for four years and can retake as many times as they like if they fail, has been criticised for placing too much emphasis on cultural and sporting knowledge.

President of the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Board Stepan Kerkyasharian said Wednesday the test should be more practical.

“It shouldn't be a test of culture but a test of knowledge,” he told commercial radio.

“I'd like to see a citizenship test which is easy to administer, easy to take part in, not sort of couched in high-level English terms, and a test about the political system in Australia and what everyday life in Australia is about, not about what happened 20 years ago in some cricket match.”

Kerkyasharian said how a migrant lived their life was a better indicator of whether they should become an Australian citizen.

“You're not going to get that through a test. You are going to get that through their lifestyle,” he said.

“In other words, if they've been model citizens, if they've been employed, if they've paid all their taxes, if they've been entrepreneurial.”