PLAIN ENGLISH: Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton cuts a lonely figure as he introduces citizenship law changes in the House of Representatives yesterday.
PLAIN ENGLISH: Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton cuts a lonely figure as he introduces citizenship law changes in the House of Representatives yesterday. MICK TSIKAS

Dutton 'creating underclass'

LABOR has called a university entrance English language test proposed for migrants wanting to be Australian citizens a "bizarre concept”.

Under measures introduced to parliament yesterday, citizens would need to prove a "competent” level of reading, writing, listening and speaking.

Opposition citizenship spokesman Tony Burke told the ABC that talk about language proficiency being set at level six in the International English Language Testing System - roughly that required for university entrance - was a "bizarre concept”.

"We're setting standards that a very good number of Australians who were born here do not meet and will never meet,” he said.

The law would exempt people aged over 60 and children under 16. It would also exempt people with hearing, speech or sight impairments or permanent or enduring physical or mental incapacity.

English language was "essential to economic participation and social cohesion,” Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told parliament.

GetUp! slammed the law, saying it aimed to import failed European policies that created an underclass of migrants who were prevented from attaining citizenship.

Get Up! rights director Shen Narayanasamy said: "What Dutton's law does is tell the migrants and children of migrants that you don't belong here unless you speak university-level English.

"The law sets out one standard if you've migrated from Great Britain and another standard if you've migrated here from Greece, or China, or India.

"Nearly 28% of this country are migrants, and more than half of us have a parent born overseas.”



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