There have been some complaints about the new Australian citizenship tests. Evidently around 20 per cent of those taking the test for the first time are failing it. Ethnic groups are calling for their scrapping, or at least a major overhaul. Labor says it will seriously look into this issue. The Opposition says the tests are not so draconian, and do not need any major changes.
The multiple choice test, comprised of 20 questions, was introduced by the former Howard Government. But some groups seem to think it too difficult, or unnecessary.
A few things can be said in defence of the tests. Every country that accepts in people from abroad must expect a minimum of compliance, loyalty and understanding from them. Speaking the language helps of course. But agreeing to the basic ethics and values of a nation is also important. So too is having at least a cursory understanding of the nation’s history, its political and social institutions, and major customs.
There is a study book people get before taking the test, with all the information needed to answer the mere twenty questions which are randomly chosen from a larger pool of questions. A person passes if they simply get at least 60 per cent (12 of the 20 questions) right. And those who fail this test can take it again. Of the 8400 people who have taken the test, 90 per cent have passed it in their first or second attempt.
Moreover, the questions really are ridiculously easy. Let me give a few examples of what these questions are like (WARNING: for those who experience a major hissy fit over humour and/or a bit of satire, please stop reading now.) Here then are a few citizenship questions, not much unlike those found in the current citizenship test.
-What letter does the word Australia begin and end with?
-What is the title of the political leader in Australia?
A. Prime Minister
B. Chief witch doctor
C. Head coach
-Does Australia have an official religion?
C. Beats the heck out of me
-Which of the following animals are not found in Australia?
-What is the nation’s capital?
C. Washington, DC
-Which of the following is not a major political party in Australia?
A. The Nazi Party
B. The Liberal Party
C. The Labor Party
-Who is the current Prime Minister?
A. Kevin Rudd
B. Elmer Fudd
C. Genghis Khan
-When did Australia become a Commonwealth?
B. 269 BC
-What is a favourite Australian bread spread?
B. 40W motor oil
-The recently defeated Prime Minister was who?
A. John Howard
B. John Travolta
C. George Bush
– Recently freed prisoner David Hicks had been found guilty of what?
A. Supporting terrorism
B. Cheating on Sudoku
C. Selling dodgy sun tan lotion
-Which one of the following is a famous Australian tennis player?
A. Lleyton Hewitt
B. Tiger Woods
C. Babe Ruth
-Australia is a part of which geographical region?
B. North America
-What is the main language spoken in Australia?
-A famous Australian actress is Nicole who?
A. Nicole Kidman
B. Nicole Saradowski
C. Nicole Jones
-What unique Australian mammal has a duck bill, webbed feet and a broad tail?
B. Bengal tiger
As can be seen, the questions are not exactly the stuff of rocket science. Most are no-brainers. So for groups to complain that the tests are too onerous is really a bit rich. The truth is, it is remarkably easy to become an Australian citizen here. Many other countries have much tougher and stricter conditions. So I think we need to take the current round of complaints with a grain of salt. It seems merely to be yet another attempt to bash Howard, even if after the fact.