SHAFAQNA – The Federal Government is making changes to the Australian citizenship overhaul.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton denies the Turnbull government is singling out particular communities as it tightens the requirements for Australian citizenship.
From Thursday the coalition wants applicants to face a stand-alone English test and ask them to commit to embracing Australian values.
Some of the new citizenship test questions would canvass issues such as domestic violence, genital mutilation and child marriage.
But Mr Dutton denied they were targeted at a particular religion.
“They’re pointed at people who might think that domestic violence is okay. Well it’s not,” he told the Seven Network ahead of the announcement.
The minister insists 99 per cent of the Muslim community are law-abiding.
“What I want is, frankly, for people to abide by our laws, adopt our values, I want them to send their kids to school, if they’re of working age and have an ability to work, I want them working… I want people to be able to become great Australians.”
Applicants will also be required to have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least four years – up from one year – and will only be allowed to fail the citizenship test three times.
At present, there is no limit to the number of times a person can fail the test.
The citizenship crackdown comes follows the decision to overhaul the 457 temporary foreign worker visa system.
“Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said.
“We must ensure that our citizenship program is conducted in our national interest.”
The government is also pursuing several other citizenship reforms, which will apply to all new applicants, including:
* They must show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community (evidence of employment, membership of community organisations, school enrolment for all eligible children);
* Applicants who cheat during the citizenship test will automatically fail.
Prospective citizens with a permanent or enduring incapacity, as well as those aged under 16, would be exempted from the English reading, writing and listening test.
Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong doesn’t understand the need for the changes.
“If English grammar is the test there might be a few members of parliament who might struggle,” she told ABC radio.
The existing pledge ensures new citizens commit loyalty to Australia, its people and its laws.
“I think those sentiments are pretty good,” Senator Wong said, noting the opposition was yet to see the details.