Australia: Immigration Minister pushes on with citizenship test

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 17 16:23:03 UTC 2007

Andrews pushes on with citizenship test

March 15, 2007 08:00am

IMMIGRATION Minister Kevin Andrews has shrugged off a stinging attack by
Government backbencher on proposed tough new English language tests for
migrants. Backbencher Petro Georgiou, a key Liberal Party moderate,
yesterday described the citizenship test as a massive step backwards and
utterly at odds with Australia's commitment to a fair go. Mr Andrews said
it was important for all new citizens to speak English.

"When people come to Australia, they come to Australia because they see
this is as land of opportunity," he told ABC radio. "And surely part of
our responsibility to them is to ensure that they understand and can use
English, not to say that people shouldn't be able to use their native
tongues. "That has been a great additional advantage to Australia. Surely
being able to use English is important for anybody in this country."

English tests are already compulsory for people seeking Australian
citizenship, but Prime Minister John Howard wants to introduce a
30-question general knowledge exam that requires English comprehension
skills. Mr Georgiou said in a speech that the tougher requirements to be
demanded of aspiring citizens would shut the gate on many people who could
make a valuable contribution to Australia. Mr Georgio said the test was
unduly harsh, requiring a higher standard of English than spoken by 2.5
million Australians classified by the Bureau of Statistics as having very
poor literacy levels.

He will press colleagues to oppose the language test and proposes measures
to improve English language ability of migrants. Mr Georgiou suggested a
small group of eminent people should investigate why many longterm
migrants have been unable to grasp the language effectively.,10117,21385680-421,00.html?from=public_rss#


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