The National Flower

…and I apologize to the world on behalf of many of us who are embarrassed at the behaviour of the intellectual vacuum that is our government.

This week the Australian Federal Minister for Immigration, Kevin Andrews, formally announced the introduction of the Australian Citizenship Test, colloquially known as the Aussie Values Test. I’ve spoken about it before on The Cow, but I had hoped that it would just evaporate back into the Formless Void of Moronic Ideas from whence it originally came.

Not so it seems.

Basically it works like this: soon, if you apply for citizenship in Australia, you will be asked a set of 20 questions (chosen from a possible list of 200) that define the proper values you would need to embrace to be accepted into this country.

This whole idea is odious and small-minded and speaks right to the undercurrent of racism that flows just beneath the surface of uneducated Australia. It says, to put it into simple language: “We don’t want you here unless you’re like us, and hold the same ideas as us”.

But who is this ‘us’? Yes, you guessed it, ‘us’ is White, middle-class, Judeo-Christian, heterosexual, television-watching consumers.

I submit for your consideration some of the questions that ‘might’ be asked in this test, according to Minister Andrews:

1. What sports are played in Australia

2. Are Australian values based on the Koran, the Judeo–Christian tradition, Catholicism or secularism?

3. Which of the following are Australian values? A: Men and women are equal; B: A fair go; C: Mateship; D: All of the above

4. Who was the first Prime Minister of Australia?

5. What is Australia’s national flower?

6. Who is Australia’s Head of State?

7. How long have the indigenous aboriginal population lived on the Australian continent?

These questions can be roughly divided into three categories: Irksome, Stupid and Irrelevant.

Few people would know or understand why the answer to question 6 is: ‘Queen Elizabeth II of England’, and how this has relevance to Australian citizenship. Question 1 and 5 are plainly daft and prove nothing at all, and question 2 is just offensive (it may as well say ‘Don’t bring your foreign religions here Sajid’). I doubt that ninety percent of fourth generation Australians would know the answer to question 4.

And question 3. I cringe. The answer is, if you didn’t get it, ‘All of the above’, but the question is so banal, mindless and hypocritical that I really want to biff the person who made it up. And biffing would have to constitute a fairly well-held Aussie Value.

Men and women are equal? Then why does the major religious organization of Australia, the Roman Catholic Church, deny women the right to participate equally with men in all aspects of the church?

A ‘fair go’? Not if you’re an immigrant seeking political asylum, or a disenchanted and exploited worker. Or a telco trying to compete with the monopoly of Telstra over the Australian telecommunication infrastructure. Or a customer trying to get service, for that matter.

Mateship? Not if it’s politically or ethically difficult.

And speaking of hypocritical… what, exactly, is the point of question 7? If it’s to emphasize that the Aboriginal people have been here longer than us, then why does the current government repeatedly and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the rights of those people?

This country is full of dumb greedy people getting dumber and greedier.

Here are some questions I guarantee won’t be in the Aussie Values test:

1. Name one Australian scientist.

2. How much water does it take to maintain an average Australian suburban lawn?

3. Out of 171 states, territories and countries around the world, only two have not ratified the Kyoto protocol. One is the USA. Who is the other?

4. Name any Australian play.

5. Which country in the world produces more carbon dioxide per capita than any other?

6. President George Bush is Prime Minister Howard’s: A: Best Buddy; B: Intellectual equal; C: Favourite dinner party conversation topic; D: All of the above.

7. Australian troops went to fight a war in Iraq because: A: The majority of Australians wanted it; B: John Howard ‘took an executive decision’ and overruled all the tenets of a democracy because he knows what’s good for us; C: They had nothing else to do; D: the political situation in the Middle East was critically and significantly important to a minor country on the other side of the world.