Canberra to review migrant test

Other News Materials 3 January 2008 01:14 (UTC +04:00)

Australia is to review its citizenship test after figures showed about 10% of applicants were repeatedly failing.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said officials would assess the test, introduced in October 2007, to find out why some people were not passing.

Would-be citizens must correctly answer 12 out of 20 questions on Australian life, culture and history.

Rights groups have criticised the test, saying it discriminates against applicants who do not speak English.

The test was introduced under the previous government, which said it would improve national unity by ensuring new citizens were better integrated into society.

The computer-based test can be taken any number of times, but is a citizenship requirement after migrants have lived four years in Australia.

Mr Evans said that, so far, 8,402 people had taken the test a total of 10,636 times, with about 90% of applicants passing on first or subsequent attempts.

He said the review was part of "the normal process of any new government".

He said that the government, which took over following general elections in November, supported the citizenship test and wanted to encourage migrants to become citizens.

"However... if people are not succeeding, we need to find out why, and how we can help to support them better," he said.

A similar citizenship test in the UK was taken 136,441 times between November 2005 and February 2007, with a total pass rate of 68%.

The UK Home Office could not say what percentage of applicants failed the test repeatedly.