Sunday, April 30, 2006

what the?

i have mixed feelings about this...

Muslim leader welcomes citizenship test
Friday Apr 28 17:46 AEST
A Muslim leader has welcomed a federal government proposal to introduce compulsory citizenship tests for Australian migrants.
Under the proposal by immigration parliamentary secretary Andrew Robb, prospective immigrants would have to take a test to demonstrate their English language skills and knowledge of Australia's values, customs, laws and history.
Muslim leader Mustapha Kara-Ali, a member of the prime minister's hand-picked Muslim community reference group, said a basic level of language skills and understanding of Australian culture could be a useful tool for new citizens.
"A basic understanding of Australian culture and a practical knowledge of the English language will go a long way in laying the foundation for a new mindset in the Muslim community," Mr Kara-Ali said.
"It's stifled minds that are opposing outright this draft blueprint by Mr Robb - it's in the Muslim community's best interest to set such citizenship requirements."
Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock, a former immigration minister, said it was important new citizens understood their obligations to Australia.
"The process that Andrew is foreshadowing may require some additional commitment of funds, of resources and they're matters that the government will look at," Mr Ruddock told reporters.
But the Australian Greens and the Australian Democrats questioned how fluency in English and an understanding of so-called Australian values would make someone a better Australian.
Greens senator Kerry Nettle said not all native Australians were fluent in English, while not all ministers epitomised Australian values.
"A fluent grasp of English is not a prerequisite of being Australian," Senator Nettle said.
"Has Mr Robb forgotten that many indigenous Australians do not speak fluent English? Is he suggesting that they are less Australian?"
The Australian Democrats echoed these concerns by arguing that if the government was serious about the citizenship test it should make everyone take it, not just migrants.
"If Andrew Robb is serious about a compulsory citizenship test on Australian history, customs and values, he should have the courage to require all Australians to take the test," Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett said.
"Clearly many existing Australians have little understanding of the history and heritage in this country."
Labor has backed the government's proposal, subject to a discussion of what constitutes Australian values.
"We would need to look at who is going to decide what would be in the test, what consultation there would be and how the test would be assessed," Labor immigration spokeswoman Annette Hurley said.
Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia chair Voula Messimeri said citizenship should not be a matter of passing or failing a test.
"Australia has a very long and very proud tradition of accepting people from all around the world and that, by necessity, means that there will be people that arrive, and arrive to the door now, that speak no English now," she told ABC radio.
Sikh Council of Australia secretary Bawa Singh Jagdev said the Sikh community would oppose a compulsory English test.
Meanwhile, Mr Kara-Ali said the government's proposal to set up an institute to teach moderate Islam could backfire.
Mr Robb said he was still seriously considering establishing an institute for Islamic studies in Australia, attached to a prominent university.
It would be run by moderate Islamic scholars.
Mr Kara-Ali said such an institute would need to be implemented carefully.
"The university would need to get selective and go for those leaders that are moderate, those for integration," Mr Kara-Ali told AAP.
Otherwise, the institute may further entrench the "old boy's club" of Australian Islamic leaders, many of whom preach a "ghetto mentality", he said.
"But with the right circumstances, I think it could be a very important milestone in community history," he said.
"I think it could go a long way and set a precedent for other western nations as well."

1 comment:

Cath said...

waheyhay.. that was a surprise, to see your trails on my page =D

yeh, life's good, not as good as yours tho, keke.. and ouch! How's ur wound?