In a speech to the Australia/UK Leadership Forum in London recently, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge discussed the Government’s plans to introduce an Australian values test before granting new migrants permanent residence.
Why introduce an Australian values test?
A significant part of the controversy is centred around whether Australia needs a Values test to facilitate social integration. Mr Tudge believes a values test is necessary to discourage ‘ethnic segregation’, however this has been sharply criticised by state figureheads who have acknowledged the strength of Australia’s multicultural community. Labor Frontbencher Anthony Albanese says, “Australia, I think, is a bit of a microcosm for what the world should be. People from different religions, races and backgrounds living together overwhelmingly in harmony.” Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane also believes there is no compelling evidence of ethnic separatism in Australia.
Mr Tudge also believes the Government lacks mechanisms to assess migrants’ adoption of Australian values, however currently people are already required to sign a values statement before being granted an Australian visa and rigorous integrity checks are undertaken as part of the visa process.
Despite this, it is not the first time the Government has attempted to introduce a values test. Last year the Government’s plans to introduce an Australian values test as part of the Citizenship process were rejected by the Senate and it appears this time the Government is looking to assess migrants’ adoption of values as part of the permanent residence process.
What the Australian values test could look like
Mr Tudge claims too many migrants are granted permanent residence before living in Australia temporarily and believes offshore applicants are a “challenge” because “information about individuals is sometimes difficult to obtain from abroad.” He expressed concerns that only approximately half of Australia’s permanent residence visas were granted to people after years of staying in Australia on a temporary visa, with the other half granted permanent residence without first living in Australia.
Mr Tudge therefore indicated that migrants should be required to stay in Australia on a temporary visa before becoming eligible to apply for permanent residence to allow the Government time to assess their adoption of Australian values. This however, would have significant impacts on the current migration program and the options that migrants have to apply for permanent residence offshore. Read our insights here.
Is an Australian values test likely to be implemented?
While the Government is currently reviewing how Australia’s permanent residence streams can be transformed, it will be interesting to see whether this will become Government policy. Interstaff will keep you updated on any legislative changes impacting Australian permanent residence. To find out if you are eligible for a permanent residence visa, contact our migration agents for a free assessment on +61 8 9221 3388 (or National Free Call 1800 449 858) or [email protected]