WORLD

Aussies want immigrants put to the test

NANCY MACDONALD September 10 2007
WORLD

Aussies want immigrants put to the test

NANCY MACDONALD September 10 2007

Aussies want immigrants put to the test

NANCY MACDONALD

Immigrants seeking Australian citizenship are going to be asked to brush up on their knowledge of the country’s history. The road to citizenship will soon include a multiple choice test, similar to that faced by immigrants to Canada, the U.S. and Britain. The new rules unveiled by the Liberal government require applicants to score 60 per cent in a 20-question test, which could ask them to name the country’s first PM (Edmund Barton), the capital (Can-

berra), and the year of federation (l90l). They will also have to take an English test, and will be asked to embrace core Aussie values, including tolerance, gender equality, freedom of speech, “mateship,” and giving people “a fair go”—the idea that all Australians should have an equal chance at success.

Australia is a settler society, with one-quarter of its 20 million people born overseas. Like Canada, it relies on an immigration points system, favours business migration, and has attempted laissez-faire multiculturalism as official policy, says Scott Watson, a University of Victoria political scientist who focuses on migration policy. Historically, Australia has been very good at integrating its newcomers. But, Watson says, there is a growing concern over the minority population since the Sydney beach riots of 2005, when violent riots broke out between white and visible minority youths at a beachside suburb.

Facing general disenchantment with the immigrant community’s emerging “separateness,” the government is aiming to stress “common values,” says Campbell Sharman, an Australian-born politics professor at the University of British Columbia. But Dorn Knight, who writes for the Sydney Morning Herald, says that if Aussies want newcomers to understand the importance of the “fair go,” the country should try giving them one—instead of bullying them into reading about it. M