The English language test for citizenship has been slammed as too hard by the coalition with calls to make the language test easier for would-be citizens.
The Turnbull government’s proposed overhaul of citizenship eligibility laws was described as looking ‘a bit sick’ by Senate crossbencher Derryn Hinch.
‘We’ve got half the politicians [who] can’t even pronounce nuclear,’ he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
After meeting with Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, Mr. Hinch said he believed the reforms weren’t dead and the government would present amendments.
‘It’s looking a bit sick but it’s not terminal,’ he said.
The report, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, recommends the government lower the standard of the test and reconsider a proposed two-year ban for three failed attempts.
The harder test would require university-level English as opposed to the current test, introduced by the Howard government, which requires conversational-level English.
Sample questions on the International English Language Testing Scheme site include asking people to write at least 150 words in 20 minutes in the form of a letter complaining about a roommate.
In the reading section, tests are marked out of 40, where to get a score in level six, you have to get a score of about 30 out of 40. Previously, participants were only required to get to level four.
Level six English is higher than more than one-quarter of Australia’s population, according to news.com.au
People are marked on content, organisation of ideas, accuracy, and use of vocabulary and grammar.
Mr. Turnbull announced the overhaul on April 20, with the new measures to be applied from that date.
But the report recommends a transition period for people who held permanent residency visas on or before April 20, with current laws to apply to them.
The new laws would also increase the waiting time from one year to four years for permanent residents before they can apply for citizenship.
However, the government faces an uphill battle to get its legislation through the Senate with Labor, the Greens, and the Nick Xenophon Team all opposed to the changes.
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm says the proposed changes are moving in the right direction, but he wants a closer look at whether the English test is suitable.
NXT senator Stirling Griff said a number of the measures were unfair, unnecessary and risked undermining Australia’s reputation as a welcoming and inclusive multicultural society.
‘The government has not adequately made its case for many of these reforms,’ he said.
Greens immigration spokesman Nick McKim warned tens of thousands of people to have their lives on hold waiting for the Parliament to make a decision.
‘So what the government needs to do today is either put this bill up so the Senate can knock it off or pull the legislation to end the massive uncertainty,’ he said.