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The Australian citizenship test: Process and rhetoric

Fozdar, F. and Spittles, B.ORCID: 0000-0003-0308-752X (2009) The Australian citizenship test: Process and rhetoric. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 55 (4). pp. 496-512.

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In late 2007, Australia's relatively liberal citizenship eligibility requirements were modified, ostensibly to improve the value of citizenship by restricting access to it. A key change involved the introduction of a citizenship test. This article tracks its development and implementation. We challenge claims of overwhelming support for the test, explore the discourses around the "Australian values" being tested, and outline the process by which the legislation was enacted (during which a number of principles of parliamentary democracy were compromised). Using evidence from politicians' speeches, we argue the citizenship test served to re-direct the Australian imagination away from a nascent "multicultural" identity, back to one redolent of the times of the "White Australia Policy", confidently celebrating connections with an Anglo-Saxon heritage, the European Enlightenment, and Judeo-Christian roots. As such it was a key aspect of the 1996-2007 Howard Government's retreat from multiculturalism.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Inc.
Copyright: © 2009 School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
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