Our Official Values

According to the DIAC booklet Becoming an Australian Citizen, these are the main values that matter in Australia. The ones that matter enough to be included in the Citizenship test that was introduced earlier this year by He Who Is Occasionally Giving Brendan Nelson Friendly Advice on How to Run the Liberal Party:

Values which are important in modern Australia include:

  • respect for the equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual
  • freedom of speech
  • freedom of religion and secular government
  • freedom of association
  • support for parliamentary democracy and the rule of law
  • equality under the law
  • equality of men and women
  • equality of opportunity
  • peacefulness
  • tolerance, mutual respect and compassion for those in need.

It’s no great mental exercise to run through the list, take a look at the previous Government’s actions and a lot of the attitudes expressed in posts and comments on blogs and conclude that none of these ten values is particularly important in Australia at all. I could easily get a quick post about the rank hypocrisy of testing would-be citizens for a willingness to uphold these lofty values when the government routinely flouts them and a lot of the existing citizenry treat them with disdain.

It’s more interesting – and more in the new spirit of “slow politics” to take a look at where this declaration of our official values came from. Let’s start with the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, which created the citizenship test:

AUSTRALIAN CITIZENSHIP ACT 2007 – SECT 21
Application and eligibility for citizenship


General eligibility

(2) A person is eligible to become an Australian citizen if the Minister is satisfied that the person:

(d) understands the nature of an application under subsection (1); and

(e) possesses a basic knowledge of the English language; and

(f) has an adequate knowledge of Australia and of the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship; and

(2A) Paragraphs (2)(d), (e) and (f) are taken to be satisfied if and only if the Minister is satisfied that the person has, before making the application:

(a) sat a test approved in a determination under section 23A; and

(b) successfully completed that test (worked out in accordance with that determination).

SECT 23A

Citizenship test

(1) The Minister must, by written determination, approve a test for the purposes of subsection 21(2A) (about general eligibility for citizenship).

Note: The test must be related to the eligibility criteria referred to in paragraphs 21(2)(d), (e) and (f).

Successful completion of the test

(2) A determination under subsection (1) must specify what amounts to successful completion of the test.

In short, it is up to the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship to decide what goes into the citizenship test, and what rates as a passing score. So DIAC’s list of official Aussie values originated from the desk of Kevin Andrews. Obviously, Andrews didn’t compile the list, or devise the test himself – that’s what flunkies and bureaucrats are for – but it was his signed approval that made the test legally valid.

So our official Australian values are what the last Minister for Immigration and Citizenship decided they should be; but, interestingly enough, there’s nothing in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, to prevent the current Minister, Christopher Evans (no doubt at the behest of Kevin Rudd) from getting his flunkies, and the bureaucrats who devised the Andrews test, to come up with a new test, more in line with the ideology of the Australian Riff-Raff Party.

It gives a whole new meaning to the saying “when you change the government, you change the country” doesn’t it? The obviously sensible solution to this problem – and if you don’t think it’s a problem, you’ve got talc between your ears – is to reform the 2007 Act. Alternatively, we could roll things back to its predecessor – the Citizenship Act 1948, while we have a good long think about whether we want a set of official Aussie values in the first place, and how to get them expressed in law if we do.

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Posted in government, politics
20 comments on “Our Official Values
  1. amused says:

    Well what an excellent list! I especially like the value ‘peacefulness’.

    Clearly put together by a bureacrat, and not the Minister of the time!

    The only thing missing is a requirement that everyone be required to take the test from time to time (as determined by the Minister) whether or not they have already attained the Party sanctified status of official Australianess.

    In that way the Official governing Party could have ensured the kind of electorate it deserved, instead of the ingrates it got!

  2. Paul Burns says:

    Since the smartest thing to do would be to repeal the 2007 Act and re-instal the 1948 Act,
    (which incidentally, Gummo, was brought in by the Australian Riff-Raff Party) that probably won’t happen.
    So, we are probably left with the alternative of waiting to see which buttons the ALP will press, or which dog-whistle they will use first.Of course, its highly likely they will do neither, in which case it is the Coalition who deserve being called the Riff-Raff Party.
    And we know which sordid buttons they press.

  3. Katz says:

    Here’s a question for the new test:

    The Right Wing Phillip Adams ia:

    a. Janet Albrechtsen.

    b. Keith Windschuttle

    c. The boring dude who comperes Counterpoint.

    d. No one, because all of the possibles have been sacked.

    [Correct answer: d]

  4. Birdie says:

    freedom of speech – do you know what it even means, Gummo? You treat it very lightly on this blog. In fact, you trash it.

  5. I honestly don’t expect the Rudd Government to touch the citizenship test or those expressed values. Beginning to suspect that when it comes to ‘furriners’, Rudd will be much closer to Howard than is comfortable or wise.

  6. philiptravers says:

    Trash should be banned from the Australian vocabulary for it is too close to the spelling of my name,and lightly as the accuser thinks Gummo is doing in speech in print seems like an unlikely reality,that as a test of wether the accuser is right in his deliberations,doesnt seem possible to establish in the three sentences presented. Case dismissed! And if Gummo had to turn over a new leaf in his accused compost heap he would be breaking local and state laws about lighting or burning leaves.In fact,his presentation here, seem not to be at all encouraged by the loco weed,but who would know that about a Birdie?

  7. gummotrotsky says:

    The debate on my respect, or lack of it, for free speech isn’t worth having, much as I appreciate the support phil.

    Let’s try to focus on the expansion of executive power, of which the citizenship test is an egregiously absurd example.

  8. Andrew says:

    What a waste of a whinge.

    We’ve just had a change of a long term government with nary a sniff of violence (excluding the Wentworth slap in the face!) or a hint of corrupt elections. That fact alone completely demolishes all of the left wing ranting about how evil little John Howard has expanded his executive power and is impinging on our civil liberties.

    The Howard haters have had the ultimate victory – they’ve voted him out. Why not move on!

    Actually of course, they didn’t really vote him out, they never voted for him in the first place – the swinging voters did. ANd – I suspect the swinging voters would look at the list of values above and say ‘hurrah for John Howard – what a fine set of values we’ve been left with’

  9. Katz says:

    You should attempt to be more nuanced Andrew.

    To accuse Howard of increasing the power of the executive is not the same as accusing him of subverting the electoral process.

    Howard can be criticised for the former while at the same time being exonerated of the latter (with the small caveat of the huge expenditure of public monies on party political advertising).

  10. gummotrotsky says:

    Quite so, Katz.

    And, Andrew, it’s the increased power of the executive that’s the root problem, regardless of who exercises it.

    Every time a government arrogates more power to itself for the purposes of its own political agenda, it forgets that in the long term that power will pass to its successors. Who may not show the same “wisdom and restraint” in its exercise.

    Partisan supporters of political parties who endorse, or accept such arrogations, are making a big mistake.

  11. Andrew says:

    Yes you’re right Katz – as Howard apparantly discovered to his chagrin. All that nasty, cunning, tricky ‘cleverness’ in manipulating the electorate with lies, half truths, tax-payer funded propaganda and expanding executive power – all to no avail! He still got voted out.

    The electoral process trumps all over concerns. If you don’t like what the government is doing – in Australia we can change it, without violence or fighting corrupt electoral practices.

    Not many other places in the world can claim that! Howard is gone. The king is dead, long live the king.

    Three cheers for Australia – what a great place to live!

    (now to keep out all the nasty ‘furriners’ with our values based citizenship test)

  12. Paul Burns says:

    I would have thought Howard’s tampering with the electoral laws in order to disenfranchise 18 years olds and itinerants temporarily so they couldn’t vote at the 2007 elections was subverting the electoral process. Don’t you think?
    I actually wrote to the Gummint about this protesting that I didn’t have a driver’s license or passport to prove my identity should I have a change of address, and need to re-enroll on the electoral role. The reponse I got, when you cut away the verbiaqge, was, basically, “Tough shit. We don’t care.”

  13. Katz says:

    Yes Paul, in the knife-edge circumstances of most Australian elections, Ratty’s finagling of the enrolment process was potentially serious.

    But the hallmark of this finagling was its smallness. And don’t forget that the AEC did for Ratty by shifting Bennelong ever westward into unfriendly territory.

    All in all, our electoral process is squeaky, squaky clean,

  14. joe2 says:

    Rattys attempt at disenfranchisement backefired completely. Apparently the undesirable yuff were up to the challenge and enrolled in unprecented numbers before the election was called. All AEC did was inform the little blighters of new arrangements in the sought of advertising that should be a model for appropriate government advertising spending…factual information.

    Maybe a neat piece of lateral work could be got up through referendum… to add to our next attempts to change the constitution. How about a bit where any values test proposed by any government, for prospective citizens, should be the standards that they would have to uphold firmly, themselves, at risk of strict legal scrutiny.

  15. David Rubie says:

    joe2 wrote:

    How about a bit where any values test proposed by any government, for prospective citizens, should be the standards that they would have to uphold firmly, themselves, at risk of strict legal scrutiny.

    That makes the list easy:

    1) All prospective citizens must aspire to a level of drunkenness somewhere between (fmr) Senator Andrew Bartlett and Brad Fittler (once described by the police as “the drunkest human being, ever”).

    2) Possesses a knowledge of english “as she is spoke”, as expressed by such exemplars as Wilson Tuckey.

    3) Have the same commitment to “Australian Values” as Tony Abbott, including a sketchy knowledge of ones own offspring and a willingness to question the motives of the terminally ill.

    4) Possess the courage of Peter Costello.

    5) Have the same minimum IQ as Kevin Andrews i.e. somewhere between a guinea pig and a lump of granite.

  16. Paul Burns says:

    David,
    I have friend who has a guinea pig. I e-mailed her about your comparison of K. Andrews. The guinea pig is mightily offended and has gone off its lettuce.
    Granite, incidentally, can probably be of some use to sculptors and builders.Unlike Mr. Andrews.

  17. David Rubie says:

    Paul Burns wrote:

    The guinea pig is mightily offended and has gone off its lettuce.

    Aw. I had one when I was a kid. Pass on my apologies to the guinea pig but use single syllables 🙂

  18. gummotrotsky says:

    “Dave is…” – how do you say “sorry” in one syllable?

  19. Klaus K says:

    Guinea pigs have high intelligence in some areas. They are especially good at improvising burrows and hiding places from found objects, and at working at a barrier to find an exit. Kevin Andrews, on the other hand, must be shown the exit from the front bench, and have a hiding place found for him in a ‘consultation role’.

  20. Paul Burns says:

    Apologies to guinea pig passed on. Now so happy he ate so much lettuce he got indigestion.

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