Australia has announced a new citizenship test that raises the bar on new entrants into the country and I think it’s something the United States should adopt and soon.
According to Reuters, new citizens will have to wait out an extended waiting period and will have to take an “Australian values” test before gaining citizenship. Also, no longer will a cursory knowledge of English be enough. It’s all part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s vision of putting “Australia First.” Sound familiar?
On Thursday, Turnbull said basic English would no longer be sufficient to become an Australian citizen under the new test.
Applicants need a minimum level 6.0 equivalent of the International English Language Testing System, and a person will only become eligible for citizenship after four years as a permanent resident, up from one year.
“What we are doing is strengthening our multicultural society and strengthening our values,” Turnbull told reporters in Canberra. “Australian citizenship should be honored, cherished. It’s a privilege.”
“I reckon if we went out today and said to Australians, “Do you think you could become an Australian citizen without being able to speak English?” They’d say, “You’re kidding. Surely you’d have to be able to speak English.”
Turnbull said the current immigration process was mainly “administrative” while the citizenship test largely a “civics test.”
The current citizenship multiple-choice questionnaire tests a person’s knowledge of Australian laws, national symbols and colors of the Aboriginal flag. But Turnbull said it was not adequate to judge whether a person would accept “Australian values.”
“If we believe that respect for women and children and saying no to violence…is an Australian value, and it is, then why should that not be made a key part, a fundamental part, a very prominent part, of our process to be an Australian citizen? Why should the test simply be a checklist of civic questions?”
It’s good to see a country stand up for its laws and core values and — gasp — demand the same from its citizens.
Australia is waking up. When will we?
Photo credit: Foter.com