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Australia's planned new English language citizenship test too hard, says Senate

Staff Writer |
The Australian government will need to head back to the drawing board on its proposed changes to the nation's citizenship test, after the Senate declared that the English language component was too hard.

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Under the proposed changes to the citizenship test, prospective Aussies would need to show university-level proficiency in English, something which even the coalition government's own Senators said was too harsh.

In a Senate committee report handed down late on Tuesday night, it was argued that while a firm grasp on the English language was "essential" for citizenship, the government was setting the bar too high.

"(The proficiency requirement) should not be so high as to disqualify from citizenship many Australians who, in the past, and with a more basic competency in the English language, have proven to be valuable members of the Australian community," the report said.

"The committee agrees that a good understanding and use of the English language is essential in order to enjoy the benefits, and fulfils the obligations, of Australian citizenship.

"(But) the committee cautions, however, against the adoption of a standard that many current citizens could not reach."

Under the government's proposal, people applying for Australian citizenship must reach English proficiency level equivalent to 6 out of 9 in all of the four aspects of reading, writing, speaking, listening in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

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