British migrant James Coda, a permanent resident in Australia, was the first person in SA to undergo the new citizenship test 02 Oct 2007.
British migrant James Coda, a permanent resident in Australia, was the first person in SA to undergo the new citizenship test 02 Oct 2007.

Backflip on controversial immigration move

It was a measure that caused a political divide in the contentious issue of immigration, now the Federal Government has backed down.

The Courier-Mail can now reveal that the Federal Government will not toughen up the test, which would have banned people taking the test for two years if they failed three times, required an English test and asked questions on "Australian values".

Immigration Minister David Coleman would not commit to reintroducing the contentious legislation now it has more favourable numbers in the Senate, when asked about plans for the citizenship test.

Immigration and Citizenship Minister David Coleman will not commit to reintroducing plans for tougher citizenship tests.
Immigration and Citizenship Minister David Coleman will not commit to reintroducing plans for tougher citizenship tests.

"The Government continues to monitor the ongoing operation of the citizenship requirements and the broader citizenship program to ensure those who wish to commit to being an Australian citizen are given the best opportunities to succeed," he said.

It is understood the Government has no plans to proceed with the previously proposed changes.

But Mr Coleman said the Coalition would deliver its plan to cap permanent migration at 160,000.

Homes Affairs department data shows that 85,267 people sat the Australian citizenship test between January 1 and November 30 last year.

Of these 4807 applicants failed the 20-question multiple choice test, 3381 went on to pass it including 1213 of these failed it three times before doing so.

Opposition Home Affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said Labor had consistently opposed the introduction of high-level English language tests.

Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally welcomed the Government backdown on the citizenship test.
Opposition home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally welcomed the Government backdown on the citizenship test.

"Not only were these tests demanding an unnecessarily high proficiency in English, but we're also applied in a discriminatory fashion only to migrants some countries and not others," she said.

She said Labor welcomed the backdown.

"However, we will be examining closely, what if any, new requirements the Government will put in place," she said.

The Turnbull Government initially announced the plans for tougher citizenship test in April 2017 as part of an "Australians first"-type policy push from the Coalition

New questions potentially to be added to the citizenship test were to have included asking when it is acceptable to "strike your spouse", ban girls from ­education or cut female genitals.

But the proposed changes were never able to get through the Senate despite numerous attempts at negotiations with the crossbench.

The existing test is in English, consists of 20 multiple choice questions and has a 75 per cent pass mark.



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