Mi­grants could face pri­mary school-level English test, says Turn­bull

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines -

Mi­grants could face a pri­mary-school level con­ver­sa­tional English test as a re­quire­ment to be­com­ing per­ma­nent Aus­tralian res­i­dents and cit­i­zens. Mal­colm Turn­bull said speak­ing English was the key to in­te­grat­ing in so­ci­ety and en­gag­ing with the econ­omy and education.

“Ev­ery­one should recog­nise we all have a vested in­ter­est in be­ing able to con­verse and en­gage in the na­tional lan­guage,” the prime min­is­ter told re­porters in Ho­bart on Thursday.He said the ini­tial goal of pri­mary school-level English was rea­son­able, say­ing it was an ob­vi­ous mea­sure to help mi­grants achieve in Aus­tralia.

Sign up to re­ceive the top sto­ries in Aus­tralia ev­ery day at noon

The cit­i­zen­ship min­is­ter, Alan Tudge, said Aus­tralia could move to a lo­cally de­signed test fo­cus­ing on con­ver­sa­tional English, rather than us­ing in­ter­na­tional ex­ams.“If you have a lot of peo­ple not speak­ing the lan­guage then you start to get so­cial frag­men­ta­tion and we don’t want to see that hap­pen,” Tudge told Sky News.He said the gov­ern­ment was con­sid­er­ing ex­tend­ing the test to make it a re­quire­ment for per­ma­nent res­i­dency. “We’re look­ing at whether or not we can have a rea­son­able, ba­sic con­ver­sa­tional English lan­guage re­quire­ment at that stage,” Tudge said.“We want peo­ple to be able to in­ter­act with one an­other, work to­gether, play to-

gether and con­tinue to con­trib­ute to Aus­tralian so­ci­ety.”Tudge said he was con­cerned about the in­crease in non-English speak­ers in Aus­tralia, with the fig­ure ap­proach­ing one mil­lion.He wanted to avoid “par­al­lel com­mu­ni­ties” de­vel­op­ing, which he said were an is­sue in some Eu­ro­pean coun­tries.

La­bor’s im­mi­gra­tion spokesman, Shayne Neu­mann, said the gov­ern­ment would be bet­ter off act­ing on a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tions to ex­pand and im­prove mi­grant English lan­guage education pro­grams. “Min­is­ter Tudge needs to ex­plain where this has come from and what ev­i­dence it is based on,” Neu­mann said.“We still haven’t seen the de­tail - but we’ve seen this rhetoric be­fore and the gov­ern­ment doesn’t have a good track record.”Any changes would need to pass par­lia­ment, but that is by no means guar­an­teed. In March Tudge said he wanted to en­sure mi­grants make an ef­fort to in­te­grate and demon­strate a com­mit­ment to Aus­tralian val­ues.Pre­vi­ous changes to cit­i­zen­ship laws were blocked in the Se­nate last year and fresh talks with cross­bench sen­a­tors would be needed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.