Migrants May Face Tougher English-Language Tests for Australian Citizenship

Australia needs significant policy intervention to address the issue of falling English-language skills, says Australian minister Alan Tudge.


Australian Citizenship Minister Alan Tudge on March 7 proposed tougher English-language tests for people trying to get Australian citizenship. The country’s multiculturalism model is at risk unless significant policy intervention addresses the issue of lower integration rates and falling English-language skills, Tudge said.

The federal government is keen on introducing tougher language tests for migrants and to show their commitment towards values of Australia, reported ABC News.

During his keynote address at the Menzies Research Centre in Sydney on “The Integration Challenge: Maintaining successful Australian multiculturalism,” Tudge argued that ethnic separatism is shaking the country to its core.

“Integration of migrants has been the secret to our multicultural success but there are a few emerging, early warning signs we are not doing it as well as we used to,” Tudge said, according to the report.

He added that there is evolving proof that Australia is not integrating as well as what it had done in the past. “Moreover, there are external factors that weren’t present even a decade ago that make integration more challenging,” Tudge said.

Australia may see the ethnic turmoil witnessed in Europe unless there is government intervention, he pointed out, adding that there is a higher concentration of overseas-born people in particular areas in the country, and sometimes that overlays with a paucity of English being spoken in those areas, reported Sky News.

“We have also got a general diminishing capacity or capability of the English language being spoken by new arrivals to this country over the last decade,” added Tudge.

Government figures revealed that nearly 25 per cent of migrants who came between January and August in 2016 did not speak English, or their language skills were limited, Tudge cited during his speech.

Tudge mentioned Greater Dandenong in south-east Melbourne, where around 60 per cent inhabitants were born abroad and many speak limited English. He specified that the tests need not need be “university level,” but it would need to show “a modest understanding” of the English language.

However, some like Shadow Citizenship Minister Tony Burke opposed the idea, describing it as “snobbish” and “divisive.”

A requirement for conversational level English is “completely reasonable and it’s already in place,” Burke said, according to reports.

He added saying that if Australians and people who have migrated to the country don’t have good English skills, it does not signify that they don’t work hard or help in building the nation.

Meanwhile, Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia chair Mary Patetsos said that measures that make it harder for migrants to become citizens are counter-productive, reported “If English language tests are too stringent, many current Australian residents who have functional levels of English will, unfairly, be denied the rights, opportunities and protections that are enjoyed by citizens,” Patetsos added.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *