Australia’s new citizenship test

Posted on September 30, 2007

As an Australian I am disheartened but not surprised to see further efforts to differentiate between ‘Australians’ and other people in the world, and grant citizen status accordingly.

Besides the fact that I, an Australian from Birth, would fail the new test, the questions have absolutely nothing to do with Australia – except in a very narrow and nationalistic sence. Is that what Australia is? A bunch of proud nationalistic people? I prefer to think of Australia as a big island, with human beings living on it, without necessarily thinking they are different from human beings living in other countries.

And what is Australian culture? Is it a bunch of dates, a line from a song and a few names?

“What year did Federation take place? What day of the year is Australia Day? What’s the first line of Australia’s national anthem? What is approximately the population of Australia?” Mr Andrews said, giving examples on ABC Radio.

New arrivals should be tested on their understanding of humanity and their propensity to respect and care for fellow man.

For example:

  • when is it OK to kill another human being?
  • when is it OK to steal from other people?
  • which matters more to the future of Australians? defense or education?
  • if Australia was to prosper but the rest of the world to remain in poverty, would it be acceptable?

If the citizenship test were applied to all Australians we might find ourselves with a population of less than 10 million. I’d like to see the test.

This line that we draw between ourselves and others, based on ‘dates’ ‘anthems’ and ‘days’ and national pride, creates famine, war and suffering.