Dutton’s values push undermines freedom

10/03/2019 Posted by admin

Peter Dutton’s first thought bubble for the year –a proposal to tighten up Australia’s citizenship test to crack down on would-be terrorists –suggests 2017 is not going to be the year our Immigration Minister starts showing any latent signs of lucidity.
Nanjing Night Net

The way to stop looming jihadists from “exploiting migration pathways”, according to Dutton –a man who previouslypredictedasylum seekers would simultaneously poach Aussie jobs and be unemployable – is for the citizenship test to place more emphasis onAustralian values. If you’re as confused about what this means as I am, the minister has been helpful enough to elaborate: send your children to school, speak English and get a job. Yes, the minister now expects you to find employment, even if it means “taking Australian jobs”,presumably.

Dutton’s proposal has been greeted with unbridled enthusiasm by One Nation leaderPauline Hanson, the self-appointed gatekeeper of what it means to be Australian.

Clearly something needs to be done because, according to7 News, “shocking new figures”show “thousands of migrants fail the test each year”and – worse still – “are allowed to sit it over and over again”. A bit like a driving test then, which a sizeable portion of Australians fail on the first attempt, except they’re typically encouraged to try again, rather than to pack it in because they’re not the sort of people we want on our roads.

As for why so many aspiring citizens are attempting the test “over and over”–it’s something of a mystery in light of Hanson’s claim that “they give you the answers anyway”. But maybe it’s because those sitting the test desperately want to belong here? Or perhaps it’s because the citizenship test relies, to an inexplicable extent, on sporting iconsand dates that the majority of those born here would fail to correctly identify.

Maybe, even, it’s because the test is “flawed, intimidating to some, and discriminatory”, according to a 2008 review, and the updated version, which “ignored most of the crucial recommendations”, still discriminates against the humanitarian program intake; the same cohort, let’s be honest, Dutton has firmly in his sights.

On the obscure topic of “Australian values”– just what does the minister mean? What aspects of the national cultural identity should newcomers be required to adopt, to meld with?The so-called “larrikin spirit”perhaps, which at its core, let’s face it, has a healthy disregard for convention and distrust for authority? Or the values reflected in our unofficial national anthem – which celebrates an itinerant labourer who steals a sheep then drowns himself rather than submit to officers of the law?Probably not.

Maybe Dutton is referring to those ideals set forth by Immigration and Border Protection, including the “spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need”– values that may be absent from the minister’s own pronouncements, but are helpfullysummarisedin his department’s “Australian values statement”that aforementioned refugees are duly required to sign.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting new citizens to share certain values in order that we can all get along together. But here’s the thing: in sanctioning how people must behave to demonstrate their worthiness – prescribing what they are permitted to do or wear, to eat, or to speak and in what language – we undermine the most important freedom of all. And that freedom – to be the same, or to be different –just happens to be the thing at the core of the democracy that we want all Australian citizens to cherish.

Testing times: Peter Dutton swimming in Australian values.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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