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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 August 2007, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Australia unveils immigrant tests
Australian flag
Some questions centre on national symbols
Australia has unveiled details of a new citizenship test for immigrants.

They will be asked questions about history, institutions and culture - as well as committing to Australian social values focusing on "mateship".

The aim of the test was to get "that balance between diversity and integration correct in future", said Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.

Critics believe the requirement of an English language exam discriminates against non-English speakers.

The new citizenship test is expected to be introduced later this year.

The details were unveiled in a 40-page draft guide that is to be given to all applicants.


The prospective citizen will have to give a correct answer to 12 out of 20 questions - drawn from a total of about 200.

Golden wattle
What is the first line of Australia's national anthem?
Which is Australia's national flower?
Where is parliament located?
When did first European settlers arrive?

Some elements will almost certainly be beyond the knowledge of many ordinary Australians, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.

They include knowing the country's first prime minister or when European settlers arrived in Australia - or what the opening line of the national anthem is. Another one could be related to the nation's most important horse race.

Applicants who fail the test will be allowed to re-sit the examination.

But Kate Gauthier, national co-ordinator of refugee support group A Just Australia, criticised the government for introducing a citizenship exam.

"If they want to have Australia be more integrated they should spend more money on programmes that achieve that instead of punishing people who are having trouble achieving that [integration] because they have language barriers and are recovering from things like torture," she was quoted as saying to the Sunday Herald Sun newspaper.

Mateship return?

For the first time, the draft guide lists 10 essential Australian values every citizen must embrace - focusing on "mateship and a fair go" and including tolerance, compassion, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and secular government, equality of men and women and peacefulness.

It describes Australia as "a nation at ease with the world and itself", but it expects potential citizens to respect Australia's core values.

"Australia has a strong tradition of mateship in which people help and receive help from others voluntarily, especially in times of adversity," it says.

"A mate can be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, daughter, son or friend. A mate can be a stranger."

The formulation caused controversy in 1999 when voters rejected an attempt by Prime Minister John Howard to have the concept written into the preamble to the constitution.

It was criticised as too sexist, or inappropriate for a formal document.

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