Could you pass the new citizenship test?

The abolition of 457 visas was the beginning of much more.

By Kate Wagner

Migrants were thrown into a tailspin with the Prime Minister’s shock announcement that the government would be abolishing the 457 visa earlier this week.

As details emerged, it appeared the decision would not change immigration as much as implied.

However, Malcolm Turnbull appears to be on a blitz and the Federal Government announced today that sweeping immigration changes would also be applied to the Australian citizenship laws.

This includes a tougher citizenship test which will assess applicants’ attitudes to religious freedom, gender equality, and their commitment to Australia.

“What we’re doing is strengthening our multicultural society and strengthening the commitment to Australian values,” Prime Minister Turnbull said.

How different is the new citizenship test?

The new test will consist of a stand-alone English test and new questions will have a greater focus on "shared values". Some of the new questions will include:

Does Australia’s principle of freedom of religion mean that it is permissible to force children to marry?

In Australia’s multicultural society, under which circumstances is it permissible to cut female genitals?

While it is illegal to use violence in public, under what circumstances can you strike your spouse in the privacy of your own home?

Under what circumstances is it appropriate to prohibit girls from education?

The old test fixated on historical and political questions, like what does the Governor-General actually do – a mystery to almost every Australian.

Of course, people can lie on the test, including about whether they have a criminal record, but Immigration Minister Peter Dutton thinks that’s irrelevant.

"The fact that somebody might fudge an answer on a test or an application is no argument against us asking people, ‘If you want to become an Australian citizen, abide by our laws and our norms’," Mr Dutton said.

How else is the citizenship process impacted?

While applicants used to only have lived in Australia for a minimum of a year, they will now need to have been a permanent resident for at least four years.

Applicants must show the steps they’ve taken to integrate themselves and contribute to the Australian community – such as evidence of employment, schooling or membership in community organisations.

Hopefuls can also only fail three times before a two-year ban is enforced, as opposed to unlimited attempts as it stood before.

Labor's foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong doesn't understand why changes were needed and suspects they were designed for political purposes.

"This looks to me like the change you make when you want people to notice," Senator Wong told AM.

The current test is already in English and, "If English grammar is the test there might be a few members of parliament who might struggle," she told ABC radio.

Her party is yet to see the details of the changes, but Wong thinks the sentiments about pledging loyalty to Australia, its people and its laws “are pretty good".

Turnbull needs bipartisan support for the changes, but if that’s successful the changes should come into effect today.

  • Author: Kate Wagner