Kiwis lag behind in Aussie citizenship test
By MARK GEENTY
Tuesday, 29 January 2008
New Zealand migrants have received a “must do better” report card after it was revealed they lagged behind Britain, South Africa, the Philippines and India in Australia's new citizenship test.
Just eight of the 290 New Zealanders who sat the test between October and December failed, or 2.8 percent, but it wasn't enough to put them among the leading performers, according to Government statistics published today.
Of the top-10 nationalities to sit the test, which requires applicants to successfully answer 12 out of 20 multiple choice questions on a computer, South Africa was the clear winner with just 0.9 percent of its 341 applicants failing.
India wasn't far behind, with a failure rate of 1 percent of its 641 applicants, followed by the Philippines (1.9 percent of 259) and Britain (2.2 percent of 1128).
The worst performers were Sudan (29.6 percent of 236) and Afghanistan (24.9 percent of 262).
In all, 638 of the 9043 people tested failed on their first attempts, a rate of 18 percent. They can sit the test as many times as they like until they pass.
This moved new Australian Immigration Minister Chris Evans to announce a review of the test in April, which will examine whether some questions were relevant to migrants of all ethnic backgrounds and whether the level of English required to pass is set too high.
It also will determine whether the test is deterring people from taking out Australian citizenship after a drop in applications since its introduction by John Howard's Government on October 1.
The review even dragged legendary Australian cricketer Sir Don Bradman into the debate about the relevance of some questions.
In one sample question, applicants are asked to name Australia's greatest cricketer of the 1930s, from a choice between Bradman, Sir Hubert Opperman and Walter Lindrum.
Opperman was a cyclist and Lindrum a billiards player.
Mr Evans suggested there may have been “political interference” in some of the questions, amid reports Mr Howard wrote the Bradman question himself.
“We want to make sure the test is appropriate and that it is based on what people really need to know in order to become citizens of the country … not necessarily the historical facts about some of our past sportsmen,” Mr Evans said.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, however, hinted at a possible selection showdown with Mr Evans, saying: “The Don is safe.”
“I'm unaware of any plans on our part to give The Don the axe. I'm not lining up in that camp,” Mr Rudd told Channel Seven.
Another sample question under scrutiny is: name the year of the first European settlement in Australia? Answer: 1788.
Other sample questions include naming the Australian national flower (the wattle); the title of Australia's national anthem; the animals on Australia's coat of arms (kangaroo and emu); the colours on the Australian flag; the name of Australia's first Prime Minister (Sir Edmund Barton), and the battle which is commemorated on Anzac Day.
Applicants are also required to correctly answer three mandatory questions “based on the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship”, which include questions about the system of government.