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Australian citizenship to include test of 'values'

Australian citizenship to include test of 'values'

The Australian government has announced plans to make it tougher for foreigners to obtain citizenship with applicants now having to undergo an "Australian values" test and take a higher level English-language exam.

"Also, a person's conduct will be scrutinised and considered as part of the citizenship process because criminal activity - including violence against women and children - involvement in gangs or organised crime is not compatible with our Australian values".

One will require applicants 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). Our citizenship process should reflect that. "We are defined by commitment to political values", Turnbull said.

The current citizenship test - a multiple-choice questionnaire - tests an applicant's knowledge about Australian laws, flags and national symbols.

Mr Turnbull said that would encourage more people to learn the language, which was the "single best thing" a new migrant could do.

The programme, known as 457 visa, allows businesses to employ foreign workers for a period of up to four years in skilled jobs where there is a shortage of Australian workers.

The prime minister said five million people had committed to becoming Australian citizens since 1949, helping to secure and enrich the nation.

The move comes two days after Australia unveiled stricter visa requirements for skilled workers from overseas.

"We are an immigration nation, but the fact remains that Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs".

Applicants who fail the test three times will have to wait two years before they can try again - now there is no limit.

The citizenship test, essentially a civics quiz that was introduced by John Howard, will also be changed to include questions that evaluate the applicant's commitment to Australian values.

"We want people who abide by our laws and our values, and we should expect nothing less", Mr Dutton said.

But the Labor opposition, which has long called for reforms to the 457 visa scheme to protect local workers, said the changes did not go far enough.

"If English grammar is the test, there might be a few members of Parliament that might struggle", she said.

"It seems a little odd to me that you would actually ask people whether or not they are going to obey the law when they already pledge to obey the law", Labour senator Penny Wong said.


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