By GENE H. McINTYRE
Reported out of Australia is the way that nation proposes to conduct tests to determine whether immigrants are granted citizenship. For openers, those interested must live there for at least four years before filing an application. Also, a person with such a desire must speak English fluently and conform to “Australian values.” These conditions would be good for the United States.
Among questions on the Aussie test are whether they believe in forced marriages for children, genital mutilation, striking a spouse and prohibiting girls from attending school. Some questions seem aimed at Muslim immigrants but there are many entering from other faiths as nearly 30 percent of Australia’s 6.9 million population is foreign-born. Here again, we in America don’t know what to expect next from immigrants, legal or otherwise, when borders here are too often disrespected and ignored.
Speaking for his government, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that Australia is “not defined by race or religion or culture.” To the contrary, Trumbull says, they’re defined by a commitment to common values, the rule of law, democracy, freedom, mutual respect, and equality for all. The citizenship process, he says, must deliver citizens who conform to what Australians have determined they stand for and believe in. I wish, big-time, we’d copy them.
The citizenship test there, at one time, amounted to knowing the nation’s history and political system while it afforded applicants unlimited opportunity to pass it. Under the proposed new design, three tries and you’re out while a rap sheet with domestic violence on it means a trip to the “door” as do other unacceptable behaviors. Very appealing requirements.
Having spent enough time in Australia to get a feel for the place, conclusions reached were that the Aussies have a better chance to establish and maintain a common values culture than most anywhere else. Maybe it’s because Australia is so far away from Europe and North America that the typical Aussie guy is a friendly “bloke” who’ll refer to you as his “mate” during the first “pint” of beer and will seek your friendship rather than getting at your U.S. dollars.
The genuine friendliness that was observed by this American was experienced in a lengthy visit awhile back. My spouse and I were able to walk the streets of any of Australia’s bigger and medium-sized cities without fearing for our safety. Hopefully, living conditions have not changed since our visit and that the proposed effort to keep the place livable is a general desire to preserve that nation’s way of life.
With a population of about 24 million and surrounded by ocean, Australia has some advantages over the U.S. when it comes to immigration controls which those folks have maintained for the last 100 years. Unlike the U.S., having become a very seriously fractured country with churlish leadership and hourly incidences of murder and mayhem, Australia by comparison is a peace-loving nation with no NRA and strict gun controls.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)