Test sets up vulnerable to fail
An ability to understand English would seem a reasonable requirement of citizenship for an Englishspeaking country.
The question is, however, what standard should this requirement meet?
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton wants to make new migrants sit a tougher stand-alone English language test before being allowed to apply for Australian citizenship.
Candidates must demonstrate a ‘‘competent’’ level of reading, writing, listening and speaking English.
Part of the test involves a 1000-word reading comprehension exam with 40 questions to be completed in 60 minutes.
Applicants must also write two essays, do a 30-minute listening test and a 15-minute speaking exam.
There are some who consider this a ‘‘university-level’’ English test.
Others say it is a necessary requirement to encourage people to integrate and speak to others in their neighbourhoods.
The new tests are at the same level that permanent skilled migrants have to achieve to gain direct entry into Australia.
However, we believe the proposed new test for migrants does not take into account those people who might have lived as refugees and who have never been to school — and who find it difficult reading and writing in their own language let alone English.
The Federal Government also wants to change the waiting period for applying for permanent residency from one year to four.
As Shepparton Ethnic Council manager Chris Hazleman has said, this extends the time migrants will be kept out of the education system and places another level of obstacles in their way.
While there must be a system of screening the abilities of new migrants, we wonder firstly if many of our first generation Italians, Greeks and Albanians would have been welcome under these new rules.
Secondly, we also wonder if all of our current parliamentarians would pass these English grammar and comprehension tests.
If not, then these new rules must be deemed a ridiculously high barrier for new migrants to jump.
A sophisticated comprehension of written and spoken English does not guarantee integration, non-violence, or acceptable political values. But it does guarantee failure if imposed upon the uneducated and the oppressed.
. . . THE PROPOSED NEW TEST FOR MIGRANTS DOES NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THOSE PEOPLE WHO MIGHT HAVE LIVED AS REFUGEES AND WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN TO SCHOOL . . .