Peter Dutton says tougher citizenship test may be on the way


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Peter Dutton has signalled a new, tougher citizenship test could consider behaviour including whether or not parents sent their children to school in the country they lived in before they applied for permanent residency in Australia.

In an interview on Sky News on Thursday, the immigration minister said a tougher citizenship test, which remains in gestation inside the government, could consider questions beyond whether or not the person had a criminal record.

“It could go beyond that,” Dutton said. “We could look at whether or not somebody has been involved in an outlaw motorcycle gang, we could look at whether somebody has been involved, for example, in domestic violence, we could look at whether or not somebody had children that were of school age, but had not attended school for extended periods over that preceding three or four years.”

Dutton said there were 65 million people in the world who “would set up in Australia tomorrow, and I don’t think we should be embarrassed to say that we want the best of those people”.

He said finding out whether or not children had been to school “could be part of a bigger picture that you could paint to say if your kids are breaking the law, if they’re involved in gang violence, if members of your family have been involved in distributing drugs.

“I mean, it’s a complete picture that we need to look at and I don’t think we should be ashamed … in this country to say that we are a great country, we are built on migration, people for generations have come here, worked hard and the vast majority do the right thing.”

Asked whether or not command of English was also in the mix for a revised test, Dutton said “there are people that would suggest” language proficiency went to the question of whether someone was integrating or not.

“Well, I think there are people that would suggest that over a period of time if your English language doesn’t improve, that that goes to the question of integration or the ability to work or to work with your community or with your school or whatever the case might be,” Dutton said.

The minister said the government was continuing to work through the detail of any change to the current system.

“We’ve obviously got a security intelligence aspect to it as well, so we’re having a look at the practical way that it might work and then if it’s something we decide to proceed with we’ll make an announcement,” he said.

Dutton said he was considering moving away from the current question-and-answer test “to something which is more objective”. That would involve looking at conduct in the years before residency in Australia was sought.

In the broad, Dutton said the test was about ensuring people wanted to share Australian values.

“If you want to live in this country you need to abide by the law and if you’re not going to abide by the law, or you’re not going to work if you’ve got a capacity to work, if you’re going to spend your time on welfare, or your kids are involved in Apex gangs in Victoria, for instance, then really we need to question whether that person is the best possible citizen.”

Online Source: The Guardian

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