Wednesday, December 13, 2006

are you aussie enough, mate?

I wonder what Australians really think about the Federal Government's planned citizenship test. I don't mean the retirees in Queensland, and not the farmers, the country people etc. but the people who vote responsibly, who read more than one newspaper and form views based on a broader set of data than their investment portfolio and tabloid journalsim.

If the proposal goes through anyone applying for citizenship will have to pass an English test and demonstrate knowledge of Australian values and culture. Applicants will be tested on such concepts as "Mateship" and "having a go" as if they are purely Australian values.

I'd like to see a nice honest and open test scenario where all parliamentarians are subjected to the full suite of tests, with results to be published in a national forum.

What exactly is this test set to achieve? If as the Government claims we are experiencing record unemployment (lets not mention record under-employment), and a healthy and vibrant economy, then surely we should be pursuading people to come here, not placing more hurdles in their way.

John Howard said in an interview that he feels that Multiculturalism is not the way to go, rather an environment of participation and assimilation, hence these new tests. In short, he is saying that the people we have here now are not the type we want, but seeing that we are stuck with them, lets get better ones next time.

It's not an anti-terror move by any means, as we all know that the World Trade Centre pilots were educated in the US, they would pass a test. The UK Tube bombers were born in the UK, they'd pass a test too. The Madrid bombers were from Madrid, so they'd also pass a test.

Trying to define Values is like trying to define Ethics or Morals. Everyone has a different opinion and perspective. "Having a go" may mean first having the opportunity to have a go. Under our current IR laws and the "people-are-here-to-serve-the-economy" model of policy making "having a go" translates to "every man for himself".

The test could only work if it was created in the spirit of a real legislative process, that is, in the multi-party environment of the senate. Similarly, it would have to be marked pass/fail by a similarly diverse grouping. If the tests "owner" Howard's appointee, Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Robb were to mark it only American and UK citizens will get in.

For more information on the test, go to DIMAs website where you'll find a discussion paper, and most importantly a community feedback form.

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