Citizenship Tests Are Meaningless

Australian Citizenship is meaningless to most people.

Australian citizenship gives you, in order of importance:

1. An Australian Passport, which in terms of travel is one of the most valuable passports available.

2. The right to continue residing in Australia even if you commit a serious crime.

3. The right to vote for the Socially Democratic, Tax and Spend party of your choice.

Whether or not a permanent resident of Australia decides to take up citizenship has no effect on their continued ability to live and work in Australia. To do that, all you need is to be a permanent resident.

If the idea is to keep “undesirables” out of Australia, then merely testing people who want to become citizens is counterproductive at best. After all, the people who actually do decide to become Australian citizens are usually the ones who really like Australia.

The people who just live here because it’s better than the shit country they came from (e.g. Kiwis or Barmy Army deserters) rarely bother to take out citizenship anyway.

If the idea is to keep terrorists out, well I’m sorry but being a citizen is irrelevant to how good you are at blowing things up, unless the citizenship test is going to include questions about bomb-making.

Any test applied to immigration intake has to be applied to applications for permanent residency . In other words, before people can even dream about becoming citizens.

And besides all that, questions about “Australian values” are meaningless anyway. I’m an Australian and I have completely different values to most other Australians. The one thing I have in common with most other Australians is that I can speak fluent English.

Speaking English is the one single skill that will help you more than any other in being successful in Australia. Your future here is very limited if you can’t speak English (unless you are a dependent of someone who can). So by all means test people for English skills, but again, the point is that they should be tested when applying for residency, not citizenship.

And don’t we already do this anyway under some kind of points system?

Anyway, the point is that a test applied to “citizenship” will have no practical effect and is just political posturing. Anyone who is coming here with the intention of causing trouble will probably put in the effort to study and pass the test in any case.

Explore posts in the same categories: Politics

39 Comments on “Citizenship Tests Are Meaningless”

  1. The Editor Says:

    You’re wrong, mate. Aussie values are uniform, unique and superior. For proof you need look no further than our federal politicians.

  2. yobbo Says:

    Hmm that page only contains information about politicians from one party. I guess part 2 is coming soon?

  3. The Editor Says:

    No argument there, Yobbo. But only one Party is responsible for the reductionist and populist values agenda.

  4. jack Says:

    How is it valuable? What a moronic unsupported statement. Australian passports are not much better than most. Maybe on par with Khazakstan (verry niiiice, high five). On what basis would you rate passports anyway? A European Union member country passport is superior for starters. As to our passport’s usefulness when you get into a bit of bother overseas, it’s not worth the cheap plastic it’s written on because our government is as weak as piss and will not press the issue if you’re rotting in some jail or Gitmo. No guts and no juice – we don’t count. No wonder we now have the citizen test (where one wasn’t needed before): now only world-scale losers who can’t get in anywhere else want to come here. The test is a pathetic sign of desperation.

  5. Dylan Says:

    Jack, an Aussie passport is extremely useful overseas. Despite what the papers say in Australia and all your worries about our national reputation because of one terrorist being held in Gitmo, the reality is that Australians are almost universally loved overseas.

  6. Brendan Halfweeg Says:

    Despite what the papers say in Australia and all your worries about our national reputation because of one terrorist being held in Gitmo, the reality is that Australians are almost universally loved overseas.

    Actually, there is a case for saying that Australians are becoming the new Americans when overseas, not necessarily universally loved. Young Aussies overseas are like an ongoing B&S Ball, sans utes, transported from Narrogin to such exotic places as Shepherds Bush, Gallipoli and Kuta Beach.

  7. jack Says:

    It says you’re PhD candidate, Dylan. So, give me some evidence that it’s “extremely useful overseas”. What does it mean, useful, anyway? Useful for what? Fraud? Do Australians have such a reputation for gormless naivete that flashing an Aussie passport makes potential marks let their guard down? I bet you a slab of Stella that you can’t give me any empirical evidence that an Australian is “more useful” than a Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Icelandic, Irish, British, French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Portugese, Austrian, Canadian, New Zealand, Polish, Italian, Japanese, South Korean, Singaporean, Swiss, Czech, Hungarian, Liechtensteinian, Luxembourgian, Belgian, Maltese, Omani, Emirates, Saint Kitts, Qatarian or even a Yank passport.

    Er, Halfweeg (a half-appropriate name you got there son), the issue here is not love of Australians but Yobbo’s off the crutch remark that Australian passports are somehow valuable.

    All this, so far, goes to reassert a longstanding premise: we’re a nation of wankers.

  8. Mark Hill Says:

    If you can define: “nation of wankers” then perhaps you could show that it has been reasserted here.

  9. jack Says:

    Okay Mark, just so you don’t think I just made it up, why don’t you slip into the Augusto Pinochet memorial Library upstairs and take out a copy of your Australian Concise Oxford Dictionary and go to page 1545. It says that one of the definitions for wanker is: “usually applied to a male), a person who deludes himself, thinks highly of himself and and shows it in his behaviour…” To think that Australian passports, and by extension, Australia, are somehow special, extraordinary, “most valuable”, is to delude oneself.

    I say re-asserted because I hear this crap on a regular basis. Will this do, Mark?

    Still, I’m willing to be converted. Will someone please tell me what is so bloody good about Australian passports, especially “in terms of travel” (don’t you love that?)?

  10. yobbo Says:

    Australian Passports are valuable because our mutual tourism agreements with other countries means that you can get into pretty much any country in the world without needing a visa, and that we are eligible for work permits in any country that allows them.

    This not true for say, American or Greek passport holders.

    This is pretty simple stuff if you could get your head out of your arse.

  11. jack Says:

    Don’t come the raw prawn with me Sammy. If I have my head up my arse you are talking through yours.

    1. The US has travel agreements and visa agreements with many more countries than us, see here: http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/brochures/brochures_1229.html#a
    and it has specific reciprocal visa waiver scheme with 27 countries incl. Australia. We have no similar scheme. This is because the US is powerful and has lots of moneyed tourists. We are a flea in terms of world tourism spend.

    2. Greece is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement and is a member of the EU so a Greek passport gives you the right to stay in any EU country longer than 90 days, and the right to work. All we can get in Schengen Agreement countries, the US and Canada and the few others in Asia without a visa is 90 days.

    For Schengen Agreement see:
    http://ec.europa.eu/justice_home/fsj/freetravel/frontiers/wai/fsj_freetravel_schengen_en.htm

    But mate, Vanuatu is a cinch for us Aussies. Go for it, live it up.

  12. Brendan Halfweeg Says:

    Er, Halfweeg (a half-appropriate name you got there son), the issue here is not love of Australians but Yobbo’s off the crutch remark that Australian passports are somehow valuable.

    Er, jack, nice try mate, but having a go at my surname does not give me any reason to believe that I would gain anything engaging you in conversation. I’m not particularly bothered mind, I can remember better insults from school kids when I was 6 years old.

    I was responding to Dylan’s reply stating that Australians are universally loved, my point is that we are not.

    In terms of gaining visa-free access, an Australian passport is pretty useful. Not quite as useful as a Kiwi one, who have also negotiated more working holiday arrangements than us.

  13. jack Says:

    Sorry Mr Halfweeg, I thought it was a blogging handle. Misunderstanding. Let’s be pals. You can engage me in conversation. As regards, the passport, “pretty useful” is a little less of an extravangant claim than “one of the most valuable passports available” and “extremely useful overseas” (sort of begs the question of how useful it is domestically…). But I suspect you are conflating different concepts here: visa-free entry agreements with working visas.

  14. yobbo Says:

    Why don’t you name some that are more valuable then smartass.

  15. Brendan Halfweeg Says:

    But I suspect you are conflating different concepts here: visa-free entry agreements with working visas.

    Working holiday arrangements are one of the components that you can use if you are comparing the international utility of certain citizenships over others. An under 28 year Kiwi can work in more countries overseas more easily than the same aged Australian. This makes Kiwi citizenship more useful than Australian citizenship in these situations.

    I’m not going to get into the debate of whether Australian citizenship is tops mate, I don’t really care. In so far as holding an Australian passport gives me the right to live in Australia, that is great. I’m also in the process of getting British citizenship because I rather enjoy living in England and plan to spend time living in both countries over the next several decades of my life. Citizenship is about utility and freedom of movement, if I could get American citizenship, I’d probably go for that as well, since I am particularly fond of the US and would like to live there as well. Fortunately, the Americans have made it easier for Australians to get work permits in the USA, so I may one day realise that dream as well.

  16. Dylan Says:

    I can’t offer empirical evidence, jack, just anecdotal evidence.

    Travelling out of Amsterdam bound for Geneva I was with three Swiss colleagues and another friend from Romania. The Aussie and Swiss passports were checked by the customs bloke for just as long as it took to swipe the cover. My Romanian friend was held up for a couple of minutes answering questions about why she had been in The Netherlands and what she had done there (we had been to a conference together).

    Note that this was as she was LEAVING the country – and all because she was travelling on a Romanian document.

    Try arriving at Charles de Gaulle where the police check passports while you are still on the jetway, that is, before you reach immigration or customs. If you arrive with your Pakistani, Romanian, Kazahk or Sudanese passport you can be sure you will be stopped on the jetway, hassled at immigration and checked at customs. In my experience with an Aussie passport you just sail on by. Do I think the police are letting their guard down? Not necessarily – but neither are they lifting their guard as they do when they spot a Romanians, Congolese or Bosnian entering the country.

  17. yobbo Says:

    Dylan what you are saying isn’t any secret. Different passport holders get treated differently no matter what country you are trying to visit. Sometimes there is an official policy and sometimes there isn’t.

    The only place where having an Australian passport isn’t so hot is the UK, because Australians have a (well-deserved) reputation for overstaying and working illegally. You’d get in much easier if you were American or Canadian.

    Everywhere else Australians get minimal hassle. If someone moves to Australia from somewhere like China or Zimbabwe, getting citizenship (and therefore an Australian passport) would be a priority if they planned on travelling anywhere else.

    A friend of mine who is Chinese was recently knocked back for a US student visa to do a postgrad because she was single, and the US government doesn’t accept single Chinese girls on student visas because they tend to marry locals and never leave. She would have had no problem whatsoever if she was an Australian citizen.

  18. jack Says:

    Well, I did, but you censored my reply. Now here’s a libertarian, ladies and gentlemen! Dylan, obviously an Australian passport is better than a Burkina Faso one, etc. for obvious reasons. But there is nothing special about an Australian passport. EU passports are more useful (and that includes a Greek one, Yob). A US passport is superior in terms of the number of visa-free countires compared to Australia – 11:27.

  19. Mark Hill Says:

    Jack, if it is easier to become an Australian citizen, then the Australian passport becomes far more valuable, because its value is realisable.

  20. yobbo Says:

    A Greek passport leaves you obligated to national service in Greece. An Australian one doesn’t.

    EU Passports vary in value depending on the country. A Swedish passport is great. Turkey, not so great.

  21. yobbo Says:

    Jack: Your previous comment got picked up by the spam filter. It tends to do that if you paste more than 1 link in a comment. I have approved it now, you shouldn’t have any problem in the future.

  22. conrad Says:

    Brendan, there are always dickhead destinations where people from rich countries that have a dickheads R’ Us culture go. Australians go to Bali, Brits go to Spain and Sydney. Be glad you can’t drive a car to Sydney from London, unlike Spain.

    However, except for dickhead destinations, most of the rest of the world as far as I can tell, excluding Indonesia and a few other countries you wouldn’t want to go anyway, thinks that Australians are just fine in general (including France). Its much better than being an American or a Brit. Who would ever know that Australian dickheads go to Bali, except for Balinese and Australians?

    Also, I think you have forgotten one thing that is good about Australian passports — you can hold one whilst holding another passport, which is quite different to many places.

  23. Brendan Halfweeg Says:

    Be glad you can’t drive a car to Sydney from London, unlike Spain.

    Majority of Brits fly to Spain, generally only those with properties in Spain consider catching a ferry.

    Also, I think you have forgotten one thing that is good about Australian passports — you can hold one whilst holding another passport, which is quite different to many places.

    No I haven’t, I think you’ll find I stated above that I am in the process of obtaining British citizenship in addition to my Australian citizenship above. Anyway, this pre-suposes that there are other countries that also allows dual citizenship as well.

    However, except for dickhead destinations, most of the rest of the world as far as I can tell, excluding Indonesia and a few other countries you wouldn’t want to go anyway, thinks that Australians are just fine in general (including France).

    Fine, but my point is that we are not universally loved, not that we are generally well thought of. Watching Australians yell at Italian waiters and then complain that coffee isn’t the same in Rome as it is in Sydney is not much different than seeing Americans do the same thing. Plus unless you are walking around with a giant kangaroo or Australian flag, most foreigners can’t tell the difference between Australians, New Zealanders, British or South Africans and sometimes even Canadians or Americans.

  24. yobbo Says:

    I don’t really see what you are trying to get at Brendan. Sure, not every Australian who goes abroad is a great ambassador, but as far as every other country in the world goes – with the possible exception of Canadians – Australians are more welcome the world over than anyone else.

    And the difference between Spain and Bali is that it only costs about $100 to fly to spain, whereas it costs $700 to fly to Bali. So any Bogan can go to Spain (Or anywhere in Europe for that matter) from the UK every weekend if he wishes and make a dickhead of himself, and many do.


  25. I have had plenty of experiences of people treating me poorly and then finding out I’m Australian and treating me better. The best introduction you can give as an English speaker is “hello, I’m not American”. If you’re an American the standard introduction is “hello, I didn’t vote for him”. But then, I travel in backpacker circles… it’s different on luxury cruises.

    Australians are generally well liked around the world. I’d say more than Americans or Brits or Germans. Kiwis are liked too… but many foreigners think of Aussies & Kiwis as much the same.

    I have an Australian & UK/EU passport. The Australian passport is obviously better than most passports — Sth American, Asian, African etc. A UK/EU passport gives you easier access around Europe and a few cheaper visas (eg Turkey, Ukraine) but the Australian passport is better (cheaper visa or longer stay) for places like Singapore & China.

    Some EU passports (the new EU members) don’t give you any better access to Europe than the Australian passport.

  26. Brendan Halfweeg Says:

    I don’t really see what you are trying to get at Brendan. Sure, not every Australian who goes abroad is a great ambassador, but as far as every other country in the world goes – with the possible exception of Canadians – Australians are more welcome the world over than anyone else.

    I was only responding to Dylan’s assertion that

    the reality is that Australians are almost universally loved overseas.

    and that this is not a truism. Enough said.

    Australians do have a generally good reputation, but we are not universally (or even almost universally) loved overseas.

    Some people don’t like us, get used to it. Some people can’t tell the difference between us and Kiwis and Canadians and South Africans and British and Americans, so reputation means little in many situations anyway.

  27. yobbo Says:

    Dylan is more correct than you were. Maybe “universally loved” isn’t 100% correct, but on a ranking of all the countries in the world we would share the top three spots with Canada and New Zealand.

  28. Brendan Halfweeg Says:

    Dylan is more correct than you were. Maybe “universally loved” isn’t 100% correct, but on a ranking of all the countries in the world we would share the top three spots with Canada and New Zealand.

    Bewdy mate, that’s bonza. Throw another shrimp on the barbie, and we’ll have a tinny to celebrate Gold, gold, gold for Ostrayah.

  29. Mark Hill Says:

    I just hope we really don’t sound like what we did in “that” infamous Simpsons episode.

  30. yobbo Says:

    That was a cartoon.

  31. Mark Hill Says:

    Well, yes.

    But I hope Groening was just trying to irritate us, not imitate us. Because if it was a good imitation, the truth hurts.

  32. Brendan Halfweeg Says:

    But I hope Groening was just trying to irritate us, not imitate us. Because if it was a good imitation, the truth hurts.

    When I first saw that episode, I hated it. I thought it was a poor attempt at mockery. But then I keep thinking of the lines

    Australian: You call that a knife? THIS is a knife! (brings out a spoon)
    Bart: That’s not a knife, that’s a spoon.
    Australian: Alright you win. I see you’ve played ‘knifey-spoony’ before.

    Or

    Gus: That’s a bloody outrage, it is! I want to take this all the way to the Prime Minister.
    [they go down to a nearby lake]
    Gus: Hey! Mr. Prime Minister! Andy!
    Andy: [floating naked on an inner tube with a beer] Eh, mates! What’s the good word?

  33. Boris Says:

    In addition to things mentioned above, citizenship gives people access to HECS, while permanent residence need to pay the same (dsicount) fees upfront.

    But more generally speaking, I think you Yobbo underestimate the importance, if only symbolic, of voting rights. Although numbers of immigrants taking up citizenships is small, it may in the long run affect the policies of the major parties (who are constantly in pursuit of new votes).

    As for values, it depends what they mean. If this will be about Australian legal principles, then it may be non-controlversial.

  34. Andjam Says:

    If the idea is to keep terrorists out, well I’m sorry but being a citizen is irrelevant to how good you are at blowing things up, unless the citizenship test is going to include questions about bomb-making.

    What about cases like Hilaly, who aren’t going to bonk 72 virgins but will provide encouragement to those who wish to do so? Would ensuring they don’t have citizenship help?

  35. Yobbo Says:

    I don’t see how. Whether Hilaly is a citizen or not he can still preach whatever he likes in his mosque. The only difference would be if he committed a serious crime. A citizen could not be deported in that case (but presumably would be in jail anyway so the effect is the same).

  36. Boris Says:

    But I do not think it is good to give Hilaly and his followers voting rights so they can share in determining the future of this country.

  37. Jo Says:

    Who gives a rats, jack, it was only yobbos opinion, everyone is entitled to that. You are an overbearing wordy show off, who misguidedly thinks he can impress people with a display of uninspired vocabulary.

  38. Jason Says:

    I think having a NZ passport is slightly more valuable than having an Australian one. There are virtually no terrorist threats to NZ but since Australia’s involvement in Iraq and cosy relationship with the USA; I’d rather be known as a kiwi rather than aussie if ever in a sticky situation.


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