Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Howards new you-beaut citizenship test

An Australian citizenship test? I honestly thought we'd heard the last of that after it was laughed out of the public sphere when the PM first floated the idea. Guess not.

From the Australian's editorial in support of the test
If three months of feedback to the Government's discussion paper on the issue is any guide, there is overwhelming public support for the initiative. Ninety-five per cent of respondents agree that basic English language skills should be compulsory, and 93 per cent consider an understanding of core Australian values to be essential for migrants to make the most of the opportunities in their adopted land.

Can I call bullshit on this? Saying "we think that migrants need to learn and adopt our values to live here successfully" is not at all the same thing as saying "we think the government should ram 'Australian values' down migrants throats".

Then of course there's the question of what "Australian values" are. This isn't as hard as it sounds I think. For example, one Australian value that I like is a healthy disrespect and distrust of politicians. I don't trust John Howard to implement this test. I don't think it will be pushing what "Australian values" are so much as what John Howard would like "Australian values" to be.

Paranoid? Probably. But when it comes right down to it, I don't think it's the Government's job to define values to its citizens - even to its new citizens - so much as it's the citizens' job to have a government that reflects their values.

I don't think the concept of having an Australian citizenship test accurately reflects Australian values. Especially not one that asks questions about Australian history. We're famously bad at knowing our own country's history. To expect new citizens to learn about it in order to be citizens seems, well....un-Australian.

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