Federal Government - Libs, Labor Spar Over Citizenship Test
The federal government wants to change the country's citizenship laws to require new arrivals adhere to "Australian values".
PM Malcolm Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton unveiled the new plan, which among other things would quiz applicants about their attitudes towards things like domestic violence, female genital mutilation, and arranged marriages - which are already against the law.
"Our country shouldn't be embarrassed to say we want great people to call Australia home. We want people who abide by our laws and our values and we should expect nothing less," said Mr. Dutton.
Mr. Turnbull is calling on Labor to support him, but opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong says the proposed changes are grounded less in reality and more in the PM's need to politically shield himself from challenges coming from the right.
"I have to say it seems a little odd to me that you would actually ask people whether or not they're going to obey when they have already to pledged to obey the law," said Senator Wong said on ABC Radio on Thursday morning. "I think everybody knows this is all about Tony Abbott, this is all about One Nation."
Other changes would require new citizens to have proficiency in English grammar. Turnbull asked, "Does anybody doubt that if you want to succeed, if you want to even have a chance of succeeding in Australia, you need to be able to speak English?"
Which brought the snark from Senator Wong: "If English grammar is the test, there might be a few members of Parliament that might struggle. But let's understand, what does our current pledge say? It says that you pledge loyalty to Australia and its people, whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect and whose laws I will uphold and obey," she said.