Australian citizenship test "gains ground"

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The federal MP behind a proposal for a citizenship test for people seeking to become Australians says the idea is getting widespread support.

Speaking after a citizenship ceremony in Melbourne recently, Parliamentary Secretary to the Immigration Minister Andrew Robb said that he was encouraged by the responses he's received.

A discussion paper on the concept has so far received more than 600 submissions since September 17, he said.

"There is a lot of support for it as I move around the community for consultations," he said.

"Some people do not agree but a lot of people do. I think we saw recently a poll where 77 per cent of the population thought the proposal was common sense.

"We are getting lots of responses. We want people to participate and give lots of ideas. The responses I am getting anecdotally as I move around the country have been very encouraging, but I don't want to pre-empt."

Forty-three people who came to Australia as refugees became citizens in yesterday's ceremony, which coincided with the beginning of national Refugee Week.

Among the citizens was Clement Laila, 33, from Sudan who said that he backed the notion of a citizenship test.

"Australia may bring someone who stays here for 10 years and they still can't speak English," Mr Laila said.

"It is ridiculous. I support an English test. Not a history test though, maybe general knowledge ... many people don't even know the Prime Minister of this country."

Examples of other westernized countries with citizenship tests are Canada, Britain, the United States and the Netherlands.

Public submissions on the discussion paper will end on November 17.


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