Push for new Australian citizenship test
CITIZENSHIP Minister Alan Tudge is pushing for migrants to sit an Australian "values" test before being granted permanent residency.
Speaking in London overnight, he argued the practice of granting permanent residency to about 100,000 migrants a year before "ever stepping foot in Australia" needed "further consideration", according to The Australian.
"Diversity can be great, but not when it includes those who want sharia law and will use violence to achieve their ends," Mr Tudge told a meeting of the Australia/UK Leadership Forum.
"Tolerance is generally a good principle, but we should not be tolerant of FGM (female genital mutilation) or child marriage or women being prohibited from learning English, studying or even driving."
Australia currently requires people to sign a values statement before entering the country, pass a citizenship test and pledge allegiance before becoming a citizen, but Mr Tudge, who is also the Multiculturalism Minister, said there was no way to test whether people understood Australian values.
He said a proposed English language skills test for those seeking permanent residency should be extended to include a "values" assessment.
"We place an emphasis on Australian values as the glue that holds the nation together," Mr Tudge said.
"We do this through requiring people to sign a values statement before coming into Australia, satisfy a citizenship test and pledge allegiance before becoming a citizen.
"The weakness of this, however, is that we presently have few mechanisms to assess people against their signed statement."
Mr Tudge warned Australia was veering towards a "European separatist multicultural model" and must do more to ensure the integration of migrants.
He had called for the nation to mount a "muscular" defence of Western liberal values and challenge the rise of identity politics, which was legitimising "practices and behaviours which should be deemed intolerable", reported.
"Hence, it takes years for some Western countries to even take a strong position against something as barbaric as female genital mutilation," he said.
In his speech, Mr Tudge said we needed to pull "our ship back" to be firmly on the "Australian integrated path".
"Some of the challenges to social cohesion that we are facing today are similar to ones that the UK is facing, such as ethnic segregation and liberal values being challenged."
His proposal for potential changes to the vetting process comes in the wake of the Turnbull Government's recent cuts to the annual permanent migration intake from 190,000 under Labor to less than 163,000 this year.
Mr Tudge said that, having secured the nation's borders, Australia was able to select people to enter the country "who want to become Australians, adopt our values and make a contribution to the nation".
"We have generally done this well, through a combination of a heavy emphasis on skilled migration, making up almost 70 per cent of our permanent migrant intake, and a strict vetting process," he said.
"In half of all cases, individuals have already been in the country for several years on short-term visas before they apply for permanent residency. We know a lot about them after they have been here for a few years.
"But in the other half of cases - constituting about 100,000 people each year - they are granted full permanent residency before ever stepping foot in Australia. This is less ideal, and something that requires further consideration."
Mr Tudge said Australians should never be complacent about social cohesion, and advocated "modest incremental policy" changes now rather than "dramatic initiatives down the track".
"If we want Australia to continue its multicultural success, we must take active steps now to ensure that social cohesion remains strong," he said.
Responding to Mr Tudge's comments, shadow infrastructure minister Anthony Albanese said he found it "pretty odd" that an Australian Government minister "goes to the UK and talks our country down".
"I've always talked our country up, that's what ministers and shadow ministers do and the fact is we have an incredibly successful multicultural nation" the Labor MP said on the Today show this morning.
He pointed towards the inclusion of Sudanese Australian Majack Daw, a first generation African refugee, in the AFL as proof of Australia's multicultural success.
"What we have in Australia, I think, is a bit of a microcosm for what the world should be: people from different religions, races and backgrounds living together overwhelmingly in harmony," Mr Albanese said.