By Mark Schliebs  May 18, 2007 11:42am

Australian readers struggle with some questions would-be Aussies must answer 20 questions from pool of 200 must achieve pass rate of 60 per cent.

NEWS.com.au readers have condemned the Federal Government’s new citizenship quiz after putting themselves to the test today. Many Australian-born readers said that not even they knew the answers to some of the questions the Government wants in the test, which will contain 20 randomly selected questions drawn from a pool of 200.

One reader described it as “idiotic nonsense” and another asked if he should be expelled – or perhaps flogged – for not knowing the name of the nation’s first Prime Minister.

 Your turn: Take a sample of the citizenship test

The dreams of hundreds of thousands of immigrants will hinge on whether they can answer the 20-question quiz.

Knowledge nation

Would-be Australians will have to know what the flag looks like, how long Aborigines have lived here, and the name of our national flower. They should also know when European settlers arrived, what Anzac Day commemorates, and the name of our first prime minister.

But when we gave readers the chance to try out the test this morning, many were far from impressed. “First of all, the question ‘who was the first Prime Minister of Australia?’ – I have no idea,” Nickalarious of Darwin said. “Should I be expelled from the country? Flogged perhaps?”

‘Wedge politics’

Darwin’s Bruce Westcott said: “Passing a stupid test doesn’t prove that you will be a good citizen.” Another reader said the test was a “farce” with loaded questions, while others criticised “wedge politics”, called the whole test “twaddle” or decried it as a waste of money.

However, several readers said getting 60 per cent of answers correct on the sample test, which would allow citizenship when it’s implemented, was relatively easy. “It’s all pretty easy and basic stuff, really. I’m an Irish girl who has been here a year and I got 17 out of 20,” one woman said. Another said: “All Australians should know these things, they’re not difficult questions and frankly, they’re going to help anyone immigrating to get into the Australian life.”

Tradition

Immigration minister Kevin Andrews said the test would force potential citizens to know about Australia’s political system, Aboriginal history and that the nation’s values were based on Judeo-Christian tradition.

“It’s the sort of thing you would expect someone who goes through school in Australia would know at the end of secondary school, and probably in some instances at the end of primary school,” Mr Andrews told the Herald Sun.

One of the questions is likely to be: “Which city is the capital of Australia: Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra or Hobart?” Another is: “Which animals are on the coat of arms?” Among the possible answers is: “Lion and unicorn”. The test will be based on a new resource book, The Australian Way of Life, being drawn up by the Immigration Department.

Pass mark

Immigrants will be able to sit the test after four years’ “lawful residence”, including at least 12 months’ permanent residence. It is believed candidates will have to get 60 per cent right to earn citizenship. Those who fail will be given a second chance.

Citizenship tests are conducted in Canada, the US and UK. “Ours won’t be the same as any of those. It will be uniquely Australian,” Mr Andrews said. “But it always makes sense to have a look at what others have done in the past.”

The test will operate alongside new English language testing, ensuring immigrants are proficient in the language before they are granted permanent residence.

Government critic

In a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia yesterday, Mr Andrews said immigrants must learn English to help them integrate into society.

“Immigration is a process, not an event,” he said. “It must meet not only our economic objectives. Social cohesion and integration are equally important, as is the protection of our sovereignty and borders,” Mr Andrews said.

One critic from within the Government, Victorian Liberal MP Petro Georgiou, has already attacked the test. Mr Georgiou said it would be not an incentive but a punishment for those with low literacy who happened to be born overseas.

“The plain fact is that thousands of people would fail such a test, even when English is their native language,” he said. But Labor has not raised objections to the citizenship test.

With The Herald Sun


1 Response to “Readers Slam Citizenship Test”

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