Tag: Alan Tudge

‘Sophisticated digital system’ for incoming international passengers from next year: Alan Tudge


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 6 November 2020: Australia will have a sophisticated digital system for incoming international travelers from next year in its battle to keep the COVID-19 virus out of the country. The system will detect from incoming documents if an incoming traveler landing in Australia has had an anti-Carona vaccine or not, Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs, Mr. Alan Tudge told a multicultural media conference today on a question by South Asia Times (SAT).

The passengers who are found to be vaccinated are then likely to be exempted from quarantine requirements, the Minister disclosed.

Mr. Tudge said, ” It is a tough challenge opening up international borders as the anticipated vaccine is expected only by mid- next year.”

The Minister also touched on the government’s vaccine plans, international students, and mental health issues. “The Government has under its COVID mental health campaign increased medicare visits for mental health consultations from 10 to twenty, ” he said.

English requirements plan for partner visas ‘smacks of racism’, says Labor


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 12 October 2020: The Labor Party today came down heavily on the Morrison Govt’s Budget 2020-21 plan to have English requirements from next year for a spouse visa and those applying for it. Using strong words Labor’s Shadow Minister For Multicultural Affairs and Shadow Minister Assisting for Immigration and Citizenship Mr. Andrew Giles MP today said, it “smacks of racism”. He was speaking at a Virtual Zoom press conference for multicultural media along with Deputy Labor leader in the Senate, Senator Kristina Keneally.

“What business is it Minister Tudge or Mr. Morrison to say you can meet someone and seek to form a life with them in Australia if they come from a country where English is spoken, but not if they don’t. It seems to me to be an extraordinary proposition that’s entirely inconsistent with how this country has been built, entirely disrespectful to the contributions of hundreds of thousands of Australians.

A few days back the Acting Minister for Immigration Alan Tudge in a multicultural media conference said, ” The success of Australia has been built on inviting people to our shores and migrants becoming central to Australian life. But you can really only be central to Australian life if you can fully participate in it. You can only fully participate in it if you at least have a basic grasp of English.

The issue is we want people to have a real go trying to learn English before they put their application in and demonstrated they’ve had a proper go, then that visa will be granted, as long as the other checks are assured as well.”

In her remarks, Kristina Keneally said, ” Now under the Liberals, there are currently 100,000 people on a waiting list for a partner visa. That’s 100,000 partner visa applications sitting in the Department of Home Affairs. This is 100,000 Australians and their partners who are waiting for the opportunity to begin or to continue their lives with their loved ones in Australia.

Now Australians and their partners, their husbands and their wives, can’t put down roots, get jobs, buy homes or build communities in Australia because of the Morrison Government’s go-slow partner visa processing.”

“This English language test for partner visas smacks of racism. And if that was the Government’s intent, well, shame on them. If it’s a mistake by the Government, then they should fix it immediately and they should scrap this policy of imposing an English language test on partner visas, ” she said.

The new Australian citizenship test: can you really test ‘values’ via multiple choice?

Alan Tudge shows the guide about Australian Values at a media conference. Photo- SAT

By Alex Relly, Prof. University of Adelaide.

The Morrison government has announced plans to revamp the Australian citizenship test. From November 15, there will be new test questions on “Australian values”.

What does this new, “clear focus” on values involve? And what is the best way to assess values?

How do you become a citizen?
According to the 2007 Australian Citizenship Act, you can become an Australian citizen “by conferral” if you,

have been a resident for four years, with at least one as a permanent resident
have a basic knowledge of English
have adequate knowledge of Australia and the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship
are likely to reside in Australia or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia, and
are of good character.
Since 2007, the English language and “knowledge of Australia” requirements have been established via a “citizenship test”. According to the Department of Home Affairs, applicants between 18 and 59 need to sit the test.

The test is multiple-choice, with 20 questions in English. An applicant must get 15 correct to pass.

It is based on a booklet that includes information on “Australia and its people”, “Australian democratic beliefs, rights and liberties” and a crash course on government and the law. The updated booklet now includes a section on “Australian values”.

How is the test changing?

Last week, acting Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Alan Tudge announced an increased focus on “values”.

Tudge says this will require potential citizens to understand Australian values like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law.

We are asking those who apply for citizenship to understand our values more deeply before they make the ultimate commitment to our nation.

The increased focus requires applicants to get all five test questions on values correct. Applicants also still need to score at least 75% overall.

Why have a test?

Those in favor of a citizenship test argue the burden of having to pass the test gives citizenship greater gravitas. It promotes citizenship as a “privilege” and not a right one acquires through the long-term residence.

But the idea that citizenship should be difficult to achieve is a recent phenomenon in Australia.

In the 1980s and 90s, the federal government ran campaigns to encourage permanent residents to become citizens, so they could fully participate in Australia’s civil and political life. In 1984, the Australian Citizenship Amendment Act reduced the English language requirement for citizenship from “adequate” to “basic”, while applicants over 50 years were exempted from the language requirement.

In 1994, a parliamentary inquiry also recommended the widespread promotion of citizenship.

However, in the 21st century, amid concerns over international terrorism, there has been an emphasis on citizenship as a privilege. In 2015, the Abbott government commissioned Liberal MPs Philip Ruddock and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells to lead a national consultation on citizenship. As their report states,

Overall there remains a strong view in the community that Australian citizenship is a concept worth valuing and certainly worth protecting. While we strongly encourage migrants to become citizens, it is not something that should be earned too easily or given away cheaply.

Can you test values?

Tudge’s press release says the new test will have “more meaningful questions that require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values”.

The booklet provides six pages of information on our values, which includes statements such as, “Australians value ‘mateship’. We help each other in times of need”. And, “in Australia, the lawful actions of the police should be supported.” It also notes, “it is important to learn to speak English.”

This is an example of a practice question on values:

Which of these statements best demonstrates Australian values about freedom of expression?

a) everyone can peacefully express their opinions within the law

b) people with different views from me need to keep quiet

c) only approved topics can be discussed.

There are significant reasons to doubt the usefulness of these questions as part of the criteria for citizenship.

Firstly, identifying the correct answer does not necessarily say anything about a person’s actual values. Most people can spot examples of freedom and equality, regardless of whether they are committed to them.

Secondly, if people get an answer wrong, it is likely to say more about their English comprehension than their values.

Having said this, there is a role for civics education for citizens and prospective citizens alike. Discussing and comparing values and identifying where they differ across nations and cultures is valuable for the formation of a coherent political community. It is the reduction of these complex questions to a multiple-choice test that is the problem.

Permanent residents already have Australian values

When it comes to the values of citizenship applicants, the government should take comfort in the fact that they have already lived and contributed to the community for at least four years.

In 2014, the government also tightened the “character test” for permanent residents, making their deportation mandatory if they have been sentenced to imprisonment for a year or more.

Since last year, it has also had legislation before parliament to make it even easier to fail the character test over certain “designated offenses”, including sexual assault and aggravated burglary.

So, there are safeguards in place.

Applicants for citizenship are already entitled to live in Australia permanently. They demonstrate their commitment to Australian values through participation in work and community activities, sending their children to school, and obeying the law.

These are more effective ways to demonstrate Australian values than through correctly answering multiple-choice questions.

The changes to the citizenship test are a public relations exercise, consistent with the Coalition government’s use of citizenship as a mechanism of exclusion.

Perhaps it is not surprising these changes have been announced at a time of great uncertainty, when external threats loom large, both across and beyond our borders.

Source- The Conversation, 23 September 2020 (Under Creative Commons Licence)

‘Foreign interference’ does not refer particularly to one country: Alan Tudge


By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 4 Sept 2020: Australia’s concern about ‘foreign interference’ in multicultural communities from ‘foreign actors’ s does not refer particularly to one country, says Alan Tudge, Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs. He was answering a question by South Asia Times (SAT) at a virtual media conference today if ‘foreign interference’ referred in his speech at the National Press Club last month only to China or meant any country.

Mr. Tudge said, ” Foreign interference in various forms has reached a serious level dividing our community and we are concerned about how multicultural communities are influenced by that.”

The Minister had in his speech at the National Press Club in Canberra outlined the challenges faced to social cohesion (including COVID, foreign interference, and poor English), and what was needed to do to maintain unity in the face of these challenges.

Earlier, Mr. Tudge announced the setting up of a new taskforce to lure international businesses and encourage exceptional talent to Australia under a new initiative to support the post-COVID recovery and boost local jobs.

“The new, whole-of-government Global Business and Talent Attraction Taskforce will bring together experts from across the Commonwealth, States, and Territories as well as the private sector, as part of the Government’s JobMaker plan.

Senior business leader, Peter Verwer AO, has been appointed as the head of the Taskforce and will be known as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Global Business and Talent Attraction, the Minister disclosed.