A revamped citizenship test will prioritise important Australian values such as the rule of law and freedom of speech, as the government ramps up efforts to curtail foreign interference in the country.
The federal government will from November add five questions about Australian values to the original 20-question multiple-choice citizenship quiz, which requires a 75 percent overall mark to pass.
New Australians will need to understand concepts such as parliamentary democracy, equal opportunity, and freedom of speech, marriage, association, and religion.
All five values questions must be answered correctly.
The current test focuses heavily on Australian history and democracy. The study resource for the test, Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond has been updated to reflect the new additions.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge flagged the changes on Australian Citizenship Day on Sept. 17, the anniversary of the renaming of the Australian Citizenship Act in 1973.
“The updated citizenship test will have new and more meaningful questions that require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values,” he said in a statement obtained by The Epoch Times.
“The stronger focus on Australian values in citizenship testing will be an important part of helping protect our social cohesion into the future,” he added.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the citizenship test would also place a greater emphasis on the English language.
“That is such an important skill that migrants who come to Australia need to have for the best possible life in Australia,” Morrison noted reported AAP.
“It is in their interest, in Australia’s interests, it is our national language, it helps people get jobs, support themselves and not have to rely on welfare,” he added.
Minister Tudge has previously warned that foreign actors were seeking to “grow division” in Australia and “sow distrust” in the government and institutions. Tudge was particularly concerned about the reach of foreign actors in multicultural communities.
Australian citizens with poor English skills were more susceptible to “malign influences” or “propaganda” being spread through some ethnic press.
The Epoch Times revealed that since 2013, over 92 Australian media outlets had attended the Global Chinese Language Media Forum, which the Hoover Institute has called a platform to influence overseas Chinese-language media to tow the Communist Party line.
A Home Affairs spokesperson has told The Epoch Times that the new government initiatives would help reduce the reliance of Australians on ethnic media.
The government has scrapped caps on taxpayer-funded English classes, instead allowing citizens to take as many courses as possible to achieve a functional level of English.
Last month, Tudge spoke of threats to Australia’s “social cohesion” saying four major factors were at work.
The first was the COVID-19 lockdown, the second was foreign interference, the third was poor English-language skills, and the last was technology.