Australian government has begun plans to review its immigration to allow for tougher procedures for foreigners to get citizenship after they must have undergone “Australian Values” test and a higher level English language exam.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball revealed this on Thursday, seven days after he annulled a work visa enjoyed by foreigners, and offered to substitute it with an immigration law that place “Australia First”.
“Australian citizenship should be honoured, cherished,” The prime minister said while speaking to reporters in Canberra.
“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’s center-right administration acknowledged its approval rating needs an upgrade in view of recent fall in months and nationalist and anti-Islam parties hoping to see favorable support.
The right-wing One Nation party made potential gains, which is a loss to the coalition government, and has promised to ban Muslim immigration and deploy surveillance cameras in mosques and religious schools.
Turnbull affirmed that applicants must score a minimum level 6.0 equivalent of the International English Language Testing System, and an applicant will be eligible for citizenship after four years as a permanent resident, of up to a year.
The rating will include citizenship multiple-choice questionnaire, which evaluates a person’s knowledge of Australian laws, national symbols, and colours of the Aboriginal flag. Yet, Turnbull asserted that it is not sufficient to judge if a person would go by “Australian values”.
“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?”
It will contain questions such as if applicants have sent their kids to school; whether they go to work; if they are of working age; and if being part of disorderly gangs in cities replicated Australian values.
“The announcement has alarmed many multicultural advocates and migrant and ethnic groups will feel targeted,” an Al Jazeera’s reporter in Sydney, Yaara Bou Melhem, said.
“The opposition party has also spoken about the proposed changes and said that it’s designed to appease [the government’s] conservative base and perhaps nationalist groups.”
The new immigration policy is expected to be passed with the support of right-wing senators in the parliament.