You?re fair dinkum if it comes from the heart
By BIANCA CLARE
SWE Sa doesn't believe a test can prove if you're a 'fair-dinkum' Aussie.
The owner of Win's Thai restaurant in Coffs Harbour said the Government's proposed toughening of citizenship requirements ? migrants who want to become an Australian citizen may soon have to pass an English exam and another 45-minute quiz testing their knowledge on anything from the official colours of our nation to the history of cricket and what phone number you call in an emergency ? would not reflect if a person was 'true blue' to their country.
Mr Sa, who became an Australian citizen in 1998, said a love for your country came from your heart and your actions.
"I love Australia and even though I don't have a strong understanding of your culture or history I want to contribute to society," he said.
"That is why for the past two years I have been running my own Thai restaurant.
"It means I can employ people and give something back to the community who have been very friendly to me."
Mr Sa said his business had even allowed him to save up enough money to buy his family a home and not rely on the Government for money.
The Professor of Linguistics at the University of Armidale, Franko Leoni, was also unsure about the Government's plan.
"Legislation is not going to change the way people feel about a country or make them want to be part of society," Mr Leoni said.
"If people want to learn about Australia they will take whatever steps are necessary to do that.
"If for some reason they don't want to contribute then there is nothing you can do.
"Most new migrants don't want to be isolated from the community, anyway."
Coffs Harbour resident and owner of Delimar Delicatessen, Mario Lugli, thinks the English language skills test is a good idea for young people so that they can get a good job in the future but can't understand why there should be any questions about sport to become an Australian citizen.
"I have been in Australia for 18 years and I still don't know a thing about cricket," he said.
"If I did learn now I don't think it would make me any more loyal."
Mr Lugli said it was not a disrespect to Australian values, rather a personal choice.
"Cricket is a little bit boring compared to soccer," he said.
Coffs Harbour resident Mary Marial, who became an Australian citizen in 2003, also said knowing more about the English language would be a benefit migrants.
The mother of three from Sudan said having higher levels of English would make it easier for migrants to get a job and help parents to understand their children's homework.