AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Turnbull Says Australian Values Underpin New Citizenship Requirements

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By Politicoscope April 21, 2017 09:37

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“There is no more important title in our democracy than Australian citizen,” prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says in Canberra.

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AUSTRALIA POLITICS: Turnbull Says Australian Values Underpin New Citizenship Requirements

Malcolm Turnbull says Australian values underpin the new citizenship requirements while his immigration minister insists they are not aimed at a particular community.

“There is no more important title in our democracy than Australian citizen,” the prime minister said in Canberra on Thursday.

“Australian citizenship should be honoured, cherished. It is a privilege.”

To become citizens, applicants will need to have been a permanent resident for four years, up from 12 months now, face a stand-alone English test and commit to embracing Australian values.

Some of the new citizenship test questions will canvass issues such as domestic violence, female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Applicants will only be allowed to fail the citizenship test three times.

“We need to ensure that our citizenship test enables applicants to demonstrate how they have integrated into and engaged with our Australian community, so that they’re part of the community,” Mr Turnbull said.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton denied the changes were targeted at any one religion, but rather at particular behaviour and attitudes.

“They’re pointed at people who might think that domestic violence is OK. Well, it’s not,” he told the Seven Network.

The citizenship crackdown follows the decision to overhaul the 457 temporary foreign worker visa system.

Among other changes to citizenship rules the government is pursuing:

* All applicants must show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community (evidence of employment, membership of community organisations, school enrolment for all eligible children); and

* Applicants who cheat in the citizenship test will automatically fail.

Prospective citizens with a permanent or enduring incapacity, as well as those aged under 16, would be exempted from the English reading, writing and listening test.

Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong doesn’t understand the need for the changes.

“If English grammar is the test, there might be a few members of parliament who might struggle,” she told ABC radio.

The existing pledge ensured new citizens acknowledged their loyalty to Australia, its people and its laws.

“I think those sentiments are pretty good,” Senator Wong said, noting the opposition had yet to see the details of the proposed changes.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claimed the changes weren’t about citizenship, but Malcolm Turnbull fighting desperately to save his job from his predecessor Tony Abbott.

One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is again taking credit for the government’s latest crackdown.

“Good to see the PM is finally acting on the suggestions I made to him about the citizenship test,” she tweeted on Thursday.

Earlier in the week, Senator Hanson said while the government might deny it was talking tough on temporary foreign worker visas because of One Nation, “we all know the truth”.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce laughed off suggestions Senator Hanson was entitled to claim credit for the citizenship changes, saying Mr Dutton had driven the agenda through cabinet.

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“The only thing I can tell you about that cabinet meeting – I have a strong recollection that Pauline Hanson was not there,” he said.

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By Politicoscope April 21, 2017 09:37

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