Basic English would no longer be enough to become an Australian citizen, with a new test to be rolled out soon by the Australian government.
“We’re standing up for Australian values and the parliament should do so too,” prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said.
Applicants would now need a minimum level 6.0 equivalent of the International English Language Testing System, and applicants may only be eligible for citizenship after waiting four years as a permanent resident, up from one year, Reuters reported.
“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 because the current immigration process was mainly “administrative” it was not adequate to judge whether a person would accept “Australian values”. The current citizenship multiple-choice questionnaire tests a person’s knowledge of Australian laws, national symbols and colors of the Aboriginal flag. “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?”
The new test will include questions about how dedicated parents are towards their child’s education, and whether becoming part of a gang would count as an Australian value. Migrants could also be asked whether they support female genital mutilation and forced marriages.
In the same week, Turnbull announced scrapping a temporary work visa for foreigners and replacing it with a tougher “Australia First” policy.
The new citizenship requirements are expected to be passed with the backing of right-leaning senators in parliament. Turnbull’s party is losing votes to nationalist, anti-immigration parties such as One Nation.