30 August 2007

Citizenship test probes 'mateship' as new Australian immigration rules kick in

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Australia's immigration and citizenship minister, Kevin Andrews, explaining the thinking behind the new 'citizenship test' in an interview on Australian television this week. With the new Australian immigration rules about to come into effect on September 1st, people considering Australian immigration should be aware of the new requirements for citizenship.

The draft resource booklet and sample questions were released on Monday and they have prompted discussion about the value of the test in establishing whether someone will be a good citizen. Some Australians have expressed consternation that they would not pass the test, let alone people who have only recently taken up an Australian visa and may want to apply for citizenship.

Mr Andrews told Leon Delaney on the 2SM Morning show: "What they're really about is trying to ensure as best we can that people who want to take out citizenship know something of our history, our heritage, the sort of common values that we share in Australia.

"Something about the different levels of government, how government operates in this country, the sorts of things I suppose that you would expect generally a person coming through the school system and being educated in Australia would know about this country."

He went on to talk about the 'shared values' of Australia, such as freedom of the individual, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equality, tolerance and mutual respect. The draft resource booklet also talks about the concept of 'mateship'.

"I think [mateship] is just a colloquial way of people referring to these sorts of values in Australia. But we refer in passing to mateship because it is a factor of life in Australia," he said.

The new test requires 12 correct answers from 20 questions (chosen from 200) on everything from "what is the floral emblem of Australia?" to "How are members of parliament chosen?"

Anyone applying for an Australian visa should begin by completing the Australian Visa Bureau's online Australian visa application to see if they meet the Australian visa requirements.

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