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Australia

Australia to add 'values' test to citizenship exam

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull has announced a raft of stricter citizenship measures, raising the bar for English competency. Migrants will also have to wait longer to apply and accept "Australian values."

Australia unveiled plans on Thursday to make its citizenship test more difficult. Not only will the new exam require a higher level of English competency, it will also judge whether or not an applicant has "Australian values."

"Australian citizenship should be honored, cherished. It's a privilege," said Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, one week after his government nixed a popular work visa to help foreigners get a foot in the door in the Australian labor market.

Turnbull has said his new immigration policy seeks to put "Australia First." The new measures will also up residency requirements from one year to four.

While his plan still requires parliamentary approval, it is considered likely to pass due to the number of conservative lawmakers in both houses.

Testing 'Australian values'

The new test will not only have multiple-choice questions regarding Australian laws, symbols and history, but now it will also ask applicants whether or not they are employed, if they send their kids to school and how they feel about certain social norms.

"If we believe that respect for women and children and saying no to violence...is an Australian value, and it is, then why should that not be made a key part, a fundamental part, a very prominent part, of our process to be an Australian citizen? Why should the test simply be a checklist of civic questions?" Turnbull said.

Although one in four Australians were either born overseas or have one parent who was, in recent years Canberra has come under fire numerous times for its increasingly strict migration policies. Refugees are kept offshore on island camps that have been repeatedly criticized for alleged mistreatment.

es/cmk (AP, Reuters)

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