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Citizenship as Trivial Pursuit

Chris Saliba is one of Webdiary’s active citizen journalists, having contributed numerous articles and book reviews over the past three years. His Webdiary archive is here, and he also has his own website. In this article, Chris subjects the Federal Government’s new citizenship test to critical analysis.

Can you become a better citizen by passing a citizenship test?

This is the argument behind legislation recently passed by parliament on September 10.  Labor voted with the government on the citizenship test bill, but it was opposed by the Greens and the Democrats. Petro Georgiou was the dissenting Liberal.

Last September Family First’s Steve Fielding indicated he would pass the bill. I called his office to see if there had been a change of mind over the past year. An adviser from the senator’s office told me that Family First had voted yes to the bill, and that they had a lot of support for the citizenship test from their constituents.

When I asked if Senator Fielding had read the draft booklet, Becoming an Australian citizen, from which the questions for the test are to be taken, I was told by his adviser that she was not at liberty to say. Further probing received the same response.

Family First will release its official response once they receive the questions to be used in the test from the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship’s office.

The bill will require most permanent residents to successfully complete a citizenship test before applying. The test will cost the applicant $120 (payable as part of the overall application fee for citizenship). Pensioners can get a discounted rate of $40. According Democrats Senator Andrew Bartlett the cost of implementing the test will be some $125 million.

The draft booklet from which the 20 multiple choice questions will be derived has been released for public perusal. Despite the controversy surrounding the test, there’s not that much in the booklet that is particularly contentious.

Rights and responsibilities are laid out, Australian history is briefly explained, key national symbols, emblems and icons are demystified, sporting achievements are highlighted, national holidays are listed (in case anyone should forget) and, most importantly, part three tells aspiring citizens how the country is governed.

Tricky questions like Australia’s indigenous population, and their fate under European settlement, are treated candidly.

‘It is estimated there were some 750,000 Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia at the start of European settlement in 1788. This population declined dramatically during the 19th and early 20th century due to a number of factors, including conflict with the new settlers and especially the impact of new diseases. At the time of the 2006 Census, Australia’s Indigenous population was about 483,000.’

Elsewhere we are told that Australia has been a remarkably peaceful country, ‘except for small scale battles between settlers and Aboriginal people.’ Sure, people will argue over the scale of the battles. Nevertheless the government doesn’t pretend that these early conflicts never happened.

These matters of indigenous dispossession are set out in unemotional language, eschewing any moral perspective. The almost halving of the Aboriginal population is something that just happened.

Australia’s anti-Asian past is also dealt with. ‘Australians had also become conscious of the need to keep out the people who seemed to threaten their new way of life.’ The racist sentiment, and policy, of early Australia is briefly explained as a need to create social cohesion and keep out ‘foreign outcasts (who) worked for low wages and lowered the dignity of all labour.’

Other aspects of the draft unmistakably show John Howard’s hand. It is clear the Prime Minister is still haunted by the culture wars.

Mateship is made a uniquely Australian experience. ‘A mate can be a spouse, partner, brother, sister, daughter, son or a friend.’

The ANZAC legend gets a big grey box, highlighting its importance.

Sir Donald Bradman is identified as the greatest batsman of all time. ‘He was small and slight but amazingly quick on his feet, playing his shots almost like a machine.’ Never having taken a moment’s interest in cricket, I have no idea what this means.

Despite the dogged insistence that the blokey ‘mateship’ be applied to all human relationships, the draft booklet is overall pretty unremarkable.

If that’s the case, you may ask, what’s everyone’s problem with it? Shouldn’t people who want to become citizens assimilate, learn our values, educate themselves as to how our parliament and institutions work?

Shadow Minister for Immigration, Integration & Citizenship, Tony Burke, doesn’t believe the test is a radical departure from current practice. Nevertheless, he provided an ironic story when delivering a speech to parliament on 21st June this year discussing the bill.

Burke is the member for Watson, named after the third Prime Minister of Australia, John Christian Watson. At that time, there was no such thing as Australian citizenship: you merely had to be a member of the British Empire to enjoy full citizenship rights. Watson, however, was not his real name. It was John Christian Tanck. Having been born in Chile, he said he was born on a ship that was in international waters, allowing him to claim British citizenship even though his father was German.

According to Burke, ‘Had he told the truth about his citizenship and had our system been more watertight—say, in the fashion that it is today—he not only would never have been Prime Minister but also would not have been allowed to vote.’

Why bring this odd story up about an Australian prime minister?  Was he saying it was a bad thing that John Christian Watson ever became prime minister? Was he trying to suggest that the bill could stop some very good people from becoming citizens, maybe even prime minister? Despite the fact that his speech was all about his support for the bill, I suspect the latter was the case. As Petro Georgiou said, if his parents had had to sit the test, they never would have been able to become Australian citizens.

Nor would have my Maltese grandmother. She can barely write her own name. Studying forty pages in English and then being tested on it? Forget it! She came to Australia in search of food for her children after Malta had been devastated by bombing during the Second World War, not to learn how ‘Arthur Streeton flooded his pictures with light’ or that ‘Fred McCubbin depicted that regular nightmare, a child lost in the bush.’

So what’s wrong with the citizenship test if it’s full of nifty info about Australia? (I learnt quite a few things reading it myself.)

Well, in short it’s punitive, it’s illiberal and it’s unfair. It’s also one government’s idea of Australia. How would a future Labor government write the questions for a test? How will it be used by future governments?

It also targets people with poor English, as it is people from non-English backgrounds who are the most likely to take up citizenship. The lowest take up rates for citizenship are those from English speaking countries: the UK, the US and New Zealand. The fact is, people from non-English speaking backgrounds are more committed to Australian citizenship than those from English speaking backgrounds.

The test is baffling in this regard because it seems to be discouraging the very people who most want to become citizens from doing so. It’s counterproductive, to say the least.

If we were to be really fair about the citizenship test, all citizens would be made to pass it before they were allowed to vote. As it stands, someone who’s lucky enough to be born in Australia is free to remain blissfully ignorant of how our parliament works, what happened at Gallipoli, and the importance of Donald Bradman to the national psyche.

Australians can be very lazy about their own democracy. Just recently at the Albert Park by-election in Melbourne, only 69% of the voters turned out. Of those who did turn up to a polling booth, 6.9% cast informal votes. Politicians are no better. The Liberal Party was a complete no-show at the by-election, not even bothering to stand a candidate.

Other examples abound. Remember Peter Garrett’s mysterious disappearance from the electoral rolls for a decade? Pauline Hanson’s autobiography has an illuminating section discussing how many MPs vote on bills without even bothering to find out what they’re about!

Some of our leading media commentators even find our system of compulsory voting ‘repugnant’. Michael Duffy quite candidly wrote about how he hadn’t voted at all until the 2007 NSW state election (he voted for the Greens.) Should this diversity of opinion be reflected in the test?

Face facts, everyone learns about Australia at their own pace. Some become experts, some learn no more than what see broadcast on channel nine’s A Current Affair. All of us will be ignorant on some point of Australian history or culture.

Just ask federal Education Minister Julie Bishop. She was asked last year to name the first European explorers to cross the Blue Mountains (Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson – I just looked it up in the draft booklet.) In response she testily said, ‘We’re going to play this game, are we?’

Well, yes Minister, we are. Why didn’t you vote against it if you think it’s a silly game?

A few years ago I sat down in front of the computer to try and educate myself as to how the preferential voting system works in the Senate. Some twenty minutes later, courtesy of Antony Green’s election site, I could say, ‘Got it!’ Ask me today how it works and I’m totally clueless. I don’t know how long it took me to forget what I’d learnt, but forget it I did. Now I’m back at square one, and too lazy to bother trying to learn it again.

I hope citizens who pass the test have a better memory than I do.

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Where is the evidence Mr Andrews?

Defending the Government's move to make drastic cuts to Australia's intake of African refugees, Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews argued this week that Sudanese refugees appear to find it harder to settle in than other migrants. It is hardly surprising that refugees from the Darfur crisis, for example, who have lived in terror and have been denied basic services that Australians take for granted, need support as they make new lives.

Where is the evidence that African refugees have more problems settling into the Australian community? Is this just a racist reaction from Kevin Andrews? Where is the "Christian" compassion? Police reports say that Africans are under represented in crime statistics.  Instead of reducing numbers of African refugees we should be increasing education and community support to these unfortunate people.

The Howard government locks up "queue jumpers" now it is closing the gate to legitimate refugees against international conventions.  

Dog Whistle politics ...

... no Howard election campaign is complete without it.


The potential for conscription as a consequence of citizenship seems to me natural and sensible. If prospective citizens were not made aware of this I would be concerned.

In Howard's world, we are all cannon fodder.

You must pass all three questions on citizenship. According to the Government, one such question could be: "Which one of these is a responsibility of every Australian citizen?"

There are three possible answers: 1) renounce their citizenship of any other country; 2) serve in Australian Diplomatic Missions overseas; and 3) join with Australians to defend Australia and its way of life, should the need arise.

This one stumped me. Surely none of those answers is right?

But apparently the third answer is correct. I think most Australians would disagree.

I hope you have all got you military skills up to speed. It seems we are all responsible for Australia's defence. I thought we were proud of Australia's volunteer defence force. But in Howard's world we are all at the barricades. Who is the one who decides when the need has arisen?

Cannon fodder

John Pratt, surely you are not hanging on the words of a Democrat senator? This crowd would not know which way was up on a marked packing case.

I Spoke Too Soon

New citizenship exam emphasises principles
US Citizenship and Immigration Services releases 100 questions to study for civics exam.
The Orange County Register

Can you name one of the country’s longest rivers? A Native American tribe? What makes Benjamin Franklin famous?

Immigrants aspiring to become US citizens will be expected to answer these and other questions on a new naturalization exam that officials hope will deepen their understanding of civics and history and discourage rote memorization of facts and figures.

I hope they tell them not to bother reading the defunct US Constitution.

Trivial Pursuit Is Right

I mean, who in the hell is Don Bradman? What a cheek - including questions on sport to perspective citizens !.  Cricket has a minor following in Australia. 

 Apart from the cost of implementing this useless quiz, imagine if we had done the same after WW2 when we happily accepted fleeing European Jews. Do you think the likes of Gustav Nossal or Frank Lowy had a clue about Aussie 'values', apart from the fact they would be able to live safely and we willingly accepted them.

Or what if the USA did similar and made the Jewish artistic community, who fled Germany and Poland as the Nazis rose to power, do a test on American 'values'?. A ratbag like Hitler and his crew basically gave the US film industry its greatest boost and turned  Hollywood into a multi-billion dollar earner for the States.

The citizen's test - a stupid decisions by dummies.

Drinks milk and watches television

John Pratt: "I don't know about you but I think Mr. Howard and Bush are well on their way to characteristics of a fascist regime."

Dr Britt's list looks like it could apply to most societies on earth if the various 'typical' characteristics it employs were utilised selectively.

So as an analytical tool it's probably meaningless.

Take point 7 - Obsession with National Security.

What country doesn't have a concern with national security? And what level of concern constitutes 'obsession'?

Or how about 'Controlled Mass Media'.

How would Australia's mass media be considered 'controlled' when compared with, I dunno? China's or India's?

And which society doesn't exercise some level of social control over media? Not many allow kiddie porn or snuff movies, for example.

And the US media is far more un-hindered than most.

The points Dr Britt employs are rhetorical, rather than analytical tools.

You may as well add 'Has leader which is tee-total vegetarian' because Hitler was.

Or maybe 'Drives on right hand side of road' because most fascist nations did so?

Why not 'has funny haircut and watches cartoons' because Kim Jong Il does?

Good as well as evil

If I am correct what I am witnessing here on Webdiary is a desire to recognise the reality of evil in the world, which is a positive thing, though the tone seems to be turning from blue to black.

One passage from Kerr stands out to me:

"The great unpredictable forces seemed to me as a young man to be a fact of life that supported my tendecy to reject religion, because they appeared to be malign and to produce in the main evil and suffering rather than good. This fortified my religious doubt and agnosticism. As the years went by, and direct experience of life enabled me to develop a more mature approach, I came to see that the great forces were by no means all that happened, limiting or affecting mastery of one's own fate, were not always bad but often good. Much of what has happened to me in life has been what could be called good luck rather than bad. Even the most stressful circumstances, the most agonising and lonely moments, the most difficult decisions, have had their creative aspects in their effect upon my life.

Certainly I have experienced evil and suffering and destructive forces at work over the years but at the same time and in relation to the same circumstances I have also generally experienced love and support. Even when lonely in one or other aspect of life I have never felt that I was alone.

The great forces of good, including love, which have moulded my life and helped me to be the maker of my own fortune express the meaning that the word 'God' may be coming to have in my mind."

This seems to me a typical journey, won with little relative cost from Kerr. It took hospitalisation for me to learn precisely the same lesson, and, for many, especially those who seek refuge on our shores, it might be an even harder place to arrive at. The best we can do is often not to undo or prevent evil but to provide a space for alternative, positive ways of life.

Death by Misadventure

Jenny, I think the defining feature of fascism is its homicidal and in the extreme its genocidal urge. Arendt argued that Nazism gave us the "unprecedented" crime of Genocide and it was not merely a continuation of historical pogroms or persecution of Jewish minorities. Without using the phrase "harm minimisation" she details the way in which Nazis and the Jewish leaders who assisted them (one of Eichmann's skills was in securing this support) rationalised their behaviour by saying that they could at least make it as "humane" as possible, or save some of the Jews. Hitler's program began with his "euthanasia" of the mentally ill, and, Arendt argues, had Hitler lasted he probably would have continued to exclude members of the population on eugenic grounds and proceeded to murder them.

I don't think our country is fascist in any sense of the word: we are a liberal democracy with a few, significant issues surrounding a repressive national security policy.

The government does not kill its own citizens, though from time to time I fear that it may do so by misadventure, as with Charles De Menezes in London. There was some suggestion that he may have ran away because he over-stayed his Visa. This may or may not be true but it is plausible. To me it is an example of the problems caused by a hyped-up security environment coupled with a hyped up immigration bureaucracy. The Migration Act requires that customs officers and the federal police must detain someone if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that they are here illegally. I think this is short-sighted.

There will be times when the normalisation or otherwise of a person's immigration status will not be a priority and a discretion warranted, especially in the investigation of criminal activity.

Unofficial immigration

As much as Kessing has become the martyr for FOI, if I heard him on Insight correctly he said that illegal immigrant workers, etc, are security risks. I am not sure if I can tolerate the construction as illegal immigrants as any more a potential "security" risk than any other individual. The Wheeler report claims there is a problem associated with people smuggling, enabled by some airport staff. This could perhaps be associated with sympathetic individuals who are themselves here unlawfully, but this is only speculation. Any lapse in officialdom could equally be the result of local citizens.

It is also not a breach of security because there are no necessary consequences to other persons. If we were allow demonstrably dangerous individuals in to the country it is different, but I think it is absolutely naive to think that the point of entry, though customs, is the place where such complex national security decisions are or should be made. It may be preferable to allow such individuals to enter the country and to monitor their behaviour. If they are not within our jurisdiction it may be that we are unable to capture and successfully prosecute them.

Many people come here on illegal documents. This may be necessary and it may be the safest way for them to reach our shores, where they can then (rightfully) seek asylum. I think perhaps a certain level of unofficial immigration is tolerable, if not desirable. It may be that to do things "by the book" would be itself a security risk.

I first came across such a situation of the bureaucracy failing an individual when working in a community legal centre, where we were asked to assist in background research on an individual who had come here on illegal documents. He went to the police to own up to this, wanting to do right by the system, and had to try and talk around a police officer in to accepting his story. He went through every stage of review for his application for asylum and was rejected at each stage. I was reminded of Spielberg's satire on immigration bureaucracy The Terminal and of the desirability, from time to time, of reading between the lines.

National and foreign policy sensitivities can often mean that we cannot openly do that which we may, ethically, desire to do. When he was foreign affairs minister of South Korea, UN secretary-general Ban-Ki Moon criticised the USA for accepting refugees on the basis that they may face persecution in South Korea. Our allies are sometimes not the best in terms of human rights protections, or, alternately there may be other kinds of persecution, not directly attributable to a national government, which they may not care to admit to.

I was thinking about my experiences working in an immigration centre and I can see now how spurious the distinction between skilled migration and other types of migration really is. People will often come with potential humanitarian, family or skilled visa applications. People who seek asylum for themselves or for their family will often come here, legally, on a different type of visa and only later make an application for a protection visa.

The skilled migration program might be a way to make an unofficial humanitarian program official. It is probably too much to envisage this along the lines of the work of Oscar Schindler, but it is the same general idea.

What about our values as a global citizen?

The refusal to ratify Kyoto has been much worse than retiring to the spectator stand. It has given encouragement to other major polluters. For instance, China regularly points to the US and Australia’s refusal to ratify Kyoto as an excuse for dragging its own heals on setting emissions targets. Environmental scientist and 2007 Australian of the Year Tim Flannery has warned: "I see the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol as being supremely important, because what's happening at the moment is the Chinese are citing our recalcitrance as an excuse for them not to do anything."

This issue of Australia being part of the problem (not to mention our international reputation being sullied) is shown by comments of prominent world figures.

While the Howard government would like to test the values of people wanting to gain Australian citizenship, what about our values as world citizens? It seems to me that during the Howard years we have let our standards slip on the world stage. Rather than judging those who want to make Australia home, we should take a deep look at our values on global warming and human rights.

John Pratt, "instance, China

John Pratt, "instance, China regularly points to the US and Australia’s refusal to ratify Kyoto as an excuse for dragging its own heals on setting emissions targets".

What rubbish, China with it's massive growth cannot help but pollute the atmosphere. Even if the US and Australia signed Kyoto, China would still not reduce its emissions.

"Tim Flannery has warned: "I see the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol as being supremely important, because what's happening at the moment is the Chinese are citing our recalcitrance as an excuse for them not to do anything".

This is also rubbish, I would have expected this sort of statement from Bob Brown, not Tim Flannery.

Kyoto is the only game in town.

Alan Curran, international pressure is the only way we can encourage China to reduce its GHG emissions. The world may have to put an embargo on countries that refuse to reduce their GHG emissions. Because global warming is a international problem we must act together on all fronts. Kyoto is currently the only game in town. Can you give me any reason, that it is in Australia's advantage, not to have signed up to Kyoto?

The only reason I can think of is that Howard did not want to embarrass his mate George.

An embargo on China

 John Pratt, an embargo on China, what a great idea. Rudd can explain it to them in Mandarin so they know that we are serious.

It's not going to happen, is it? Too many people rely on our coal industry. Perhaps you could get Sharon Burrows and the unions to put a ban on coal exports: that would stop China polluting.

Duty to evil

Duty to serve the Queen, which Kerr felt in a real enough way, is I think an example of duty gone wrong. I feel as much duty to serve the Queen as I do the moon (I thought as much last night, staring sleeplessly at the night sky). Nevertheless I am touched by his civic faith. Whilst I think the Whitlam government did a great deal of policy good, the stalemate between government and senate had to be resolved somehow and the best way to do that is an election, which is the end result of the dismissal: it might have given Whitlam a chance to gain supply for his bills, had he won in the senate.

The "Maintain your rage" strategy failed to work on a significant enough portion of people, and the two ensuing elections affirmed Kerr's decision. What I remember most about the hatred of Kerr is Paul Keating's graceless eulogy to the man upon his death, discussing how he had "betrayed his Prime Minister" as if this were a cardinal sin. It means of course, only his Labor Prime Minister.

I think the Senate race is as crucial in this election as the issue of a change of government.

The most startling book I have read in recent times is Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: the banality of evil. It details the Nazis immigration policies, over which Eichmann had an administrative role. Initially the Nazis wanted to make Germany Judenrein by forced emigration. They had a preference for the Zionists because they shared similar nationalist ethics to Nazi ethics, and, Eichmann defended himself by discussing how he had worked to try and get "soil under the feet" of the Jews. The Nazis made it possible to transfer property to Palestine, helping in part in the formation of Israel, where Eichmann was later kidnapped and brought to trial for war crimes. They used the failure of initiatives like the Evian conference to justify genocide on the grounds that other nations did not want the Jews either. Later they banned emigration of Jews.

Eichmann believed it his civic duty to obey the Fuhrer and implement the "final solution", even though he was not personally an anti-Semite. A careerist and an approval-seeker he was incapable of resisting the normalisation of evil. Arendt opines that in such a society there must have been a temptation not to do evil, and that the populace had schooled itself in resisting temptation.

I think our country now often faces a dissonance between popular opinion - perceived as much as actual - and personal conscience. The one thing that I am glad I said to the Member for Greenway is that my loyalty is to the public and to my conscience rather than a political party. Such a loyalty is not necessarily right: it depends on the content of belief and action, but the capacity to defy the prevailing norms is to me an essential condition for ethical decision-making.

Dr Hollingworth's resignation speech reminds me vaguely of Eichmann's declaration that he wished to be hanged as a "lesson to all anti-Semites" and to relieve the guilt of young Germans:

"It is my hope that my resignation will demonstrate not only my commitment to the office of Governor-General and the service of the people of Australia but also the need to place the highest priority upon our most vulnerable members, our children."

In reality, his downfall is incapable of redeeming or relieving his failings. It is like a criminal claiming that his prosecution will help the victim to heal. It might, of course, but it is not some positive act that he/she can perform but rather something that is imposed upon him/her by an outraged society, regardless of his/her consent or goodwill.

Different societies have different conceptions as to how they define childhood - in Iran, for example, a person can be married at 13 - but the line has to be drawn somewhere and our system is not particularly onerous. Children need space to live their lives without having adult pressures placed upon them and this is a standard which is not too much to ask of adults in our community. I really don't care what a person’s personal views on the question are; our society has standards and these need to be upheld. One thing I would never do is to take the fall for someone else's indulgence, the way Hollingworth did in protecting the perpetrator.

Incidentally, Eichmann was given a copy of Nabokov's Lolita in Jerusalem, by someone in whose psychological care he was, and who thought it would "relax" him. He handed it back stating that it was an unwholesome book.


Solomon: After watching the As it happened program last week on SBS which covered the Auschwitz trials I find it rather abhorrent for anyone to write of this country as being Fascist. The word is thrown around much too lightly. The Nazis gave definition to fascism and as much as people, including me, do not like Howard's policies, he is not running a fascist regime.

What concerned me most in that program was the depth to which ordinary human beings in a so called civilised country could descend. As the trial Judge commented,  no words could ever be found to describe the horror of that place.

I wonder whether the words he had for the German people are remembered by any Germans today. Do they when they look into the trusting and smiling eyes of a child ever see the terror and the pain in the eyes of the little children of Auschwitz.  Or words to that effect.

I remember well when Eichmann was caught and followed his trial at th time.  But there would have been a lot of Germans who were involved in the holocaust who were never called to account.  And it was not just Germans. You don't ship millions to their deaths from a range of countries without co-operation and support on a wide scale.   

That program made me feel sick. I thought of my first five happy years and knew that while I was playing in the paddocks, children just like me on the other side of the world were being gassed and burned, some of them while still alive. It does not bear thinking about, even after all this time.  

14 defining characteristics common to fascist regimes.

Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each: 
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism 
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights 
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause 
4. Supremacy of the Military
5. Rampant Sexism 
6. Controlled Mass Media 
7. Obsession with National Security
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined 
9. Corporate Power is Protected 
10. Labor Power is Suppressed 
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption 
14. Fraudulent Elections 

I don't know about you but I think Mr. Howard and Bush are well on their way to characteristics of a fascist regime. 

Jena six

Whenever the term "fascist" is tossed lightly about, John, I release the safety-catch on my Doctorow.

E.L.Doctorow, the novelist, wrote City of God. This passage is from page 120 of my paperback edition:

At the very bottom of the sea are smoking vents of hydrogen sulfide gases in which bacteria are pleased to flourish. And feeding upon these are warty bivalves and viscous, gummy jellies and spiny eels with the amazing ability to fluoresce when they are attacked or need to illuminate their prey. God has a reason for all this. There is one fish, the hatchet, which skulks about in the deep darkness with protuberant eyes on the top of its horned head and the ability to electrically light its anus to blind predators sneaking up behind it. The electric anus, however, is not an innate feature. It comes from a colony of luminescent bacteria that house themselves symbiotically in the fish's asshole. And there is a Purpose in this as well which we haven't yet ascertained. But if you believe God's divine judgment and you countenance reincarnation, then it may be reasonably assumed that a certain bacterium living in the anus of a particularly ancient hatchetfish at the bottom of the ocean is the recycled and fully sentient soul of Adolf Hitler glimmering miserably through the cloacal muck in which he is periodically bathed and nourished. 

Doctorow wrote The Book of Daniel based on the Rosenbergs.

The Rosenbergs' two sons, Robert and Michael, were orphaned by the execution, and no relatives dared adopt them for fear of ostracism or worse. They were finally adopted by the songwriter Abel Meeropol and his wife Anne. Abel (under the pen name of Lewis Allan) wrote the classic anti-lynching anthem Strange Fruit, made famous by singer Billie Holiday.

It was not against the law to hang the nooses from the tree at the school in Jena, Alabama


Its past midnight, Jenny, and I am going through Sir John Kerr's Matters for Judgement about the Whitlam dismissal. I relate to him as a law student with an underlying sadness. He arrived at law because he was inspired by Doc Evatt, who offered him financial assistance to complete his studies: his Father was a boiler-maker. It was an astonishing feat for an 11 yr old to set his sights on and to achieve, during the depression era.

Earlier this year I met with one of my few law student friends and we had a long, sad discussion about the misery and misplaced hopes the law imposes on someone. It reminded me how unhappy it made me and all those around me, and, why I felt the need to rest from it entirely this year in the forgotten and previously abandoned non-law portion of my degree. Evatt discusses similar doubts, which is touching, along with his desire for a broader education than the utilitarian law faculty offered. He confesses his thoughts on determinism and free will, navigating somewhere in to the middle, like a prudent and cautious philosopher. He confesses his loss of faith in God.

Kerr's wife died around the time of his appointment as Governor-General. He cites Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage as the book that had the strongest influence upon him. I have never encountered anyone who writes with his simplicity of soul - he is dutiful, confessional, straight-forward. It is almost troubling - he writes of wanting to form his life in to a pattern, something beautiful, through the exercise of will. Strange how someone like him could be so hated.

The only thing I remember from school about Australian history was Pemulwuy. If I am to remember anyone I think I would choose him but I definately feel a void where Australian history should be, along with grammar, science and mathematics. My common errors betray the fact that in most things I am self-taught: my general education from the school system was shockingly negligent, even though I "performed" relatively well. The whole exercise was an elaborate charade.

About life and friends

Solomon , most humans have many different facets to their character and personality and we only get to see a small part of them as a rule. We think we know people but we can be often very surprised. Sir John Kerr was judged largely by the events of 1975 and as with the assassination of John F Kennedy, I recall exactly where I was when the news came through of his sacking of Whitlam. Sometimes one's sense of duty can take one down the wrong path.

I know little of the man, so I have never joined in the hate of him that to a large extent was fuelled in my view by Whitlam's maintain the rage philosophy. He was human like the rest of us. People in public office, however, are judged by how they act in that office, and if they are seen to be wanting in any way, then that is what is remembered and focused on by the media and the public, and often by historians. Any good they might have done in the world can be mostly forgotten.

But I do not see Kerr in quite the same light as I see Hollingsworth. The latter's delay in stepping down has left a bad an indelible impression on many, including myself.

You should read Manning Clark's Short History of Australia. Or there are many books that give you a potted overview. I never studied it, but my father left a wonderful collection of Australiana, both fiction and non fiction. If you want a good read look out for a copy of Frank Clune's Try Anything Once. His life journey will take you in a most amusing way through the first sixty years of the last century. You sound like you need cheering up anyway.

I confess my school was the happiest place I could have spent the formative years of my life. I was not a good student as home life was chaotic and unhappy, but that church school was the one unchanging positive force in my life in those turbulent times. I cried the day I looked back at the school gates for the last time. I kept all my old school books and they are a constant reminder of those happy days. I still have contact with everyone in my 1957 Leaving Class and we are having a reunion in Goulburn in November. We have remained friends all our lives.

Touching on music, a neighbour at Goulburn recently found in a junk shop a very old record of our school choir singing the School Song on one side and something else on the other. I cannot wait to find a 78 player to listen to it. I am sure it dates from about my time at the school fifty years ago. What a find for the reunion!

Must go. Have a good day, Solomon.

MacDougall does it again

I see a certain Scot by the name of Ian MacDougall has been on my computer while I was away, and changed my identity to his (again) so the comment entitled Put them all through it on this thread is not his creation.  Maybe I should just change my name and be done with it.

Any embarassment caused to said Scot is his fault. 

Maybe ik will haben to find that Dutch dictionery and post in Dutch from here on. 

Put them all through it

I think all kids at least should be put through the citizenship test. It never ceases to amaze me when school groups of Aussie kids come through our home how ignorant they are of Australian history. Show them the picture and tell them the name of a famous Australian explorer and ask them have they heard of him, and all you get is the shake of a head. Many do not even know where Vietnam is, or when the second world war was; have never heard of the Depression, or the Gold Rushes and seem only interested in knowing how much this and that is worth.   Sign of the times we live in I guess. Twenty years ago, the kids came through in their droves and hung on every word my late father told them.  They used to write and thank him, probably at the behest of the teachers but their letters showed they had learnt quite a bit.

I recall one primary school class was asked in their thank you letters to tell my father which three relics in the house they liked best. One little girl wrote: I liked the old carriage, the old school desk, and old Mr Hume. Clearly she saw him as an artefact of sorts.

I hope they are going to publish the citizenship booklet in a range of languages, not just English. Imagine not speaking a word of Dutch and being asked to read a booklet in Dutch and then answer a whole lot of questions in Dutch. 

Got caught in that sort of situation once. Was required to be able to read Dutch as part of my uni honours year in Indonesian, and not being terribly disposed toward such a goal, I did not attend the classes during the year and left it till the last two weeks of the third term to try to dissect the language. For the test you were given a passage and a dictionery and ten minutes to translate it, after which you had to read it in English to the examiners. I figured it would be  a piece of cake as all one would need was an understanding of the structure of the language, its basic grammar and be able to use a dictionery. So I poured over a Dutch grammar all day every day for two whole weeks.

I was going OK in the test except for one crucial sentence with several words I could not find in the dictionery and which were clearly derivatives.  Not being able to read that sentence was a major hurdle to understanding what the whole thing was about.  It was clearly a passage comparing Mahommed and Napoleon, but I was not very good on Napoleon to start with. Time of course ran out but somehow I managed to fumble my way through till I reached that sentence and I had to confess I was stumped. They took pity on me and did that sentence for me, and light dawned. I must have passed but I actually never heard. And I've not read a word of Dutch since. 

That all might say something about the usefulness of certain intellectual exercises.

It does no harm to require people to have some knowledge of the country in which they are seeking to make their new home, or some insight into its values and customs. But I fear the test will be discriminative, and likely good citizens will be excluded for no good reason. But if the aspiring citizen is a native Dutch speaker, I hope someone tells them there is no point in looking for the verb at the end of the flaming sentence. We put it where it should be.   

Skilled migration

The WA Greens policy from 2001 is that they want to decrease skilled migration except to workers skilled in technologies "not currently available in Australia". I don't know what precisely this means but it resembles the kinds of rhetoric that we got from Beazley Labor. In the past I might have felt the same but now I can see no reason why I would want to frustrate the will of foreigners just because they happen to have skills.

Skilled migration does not mean that a person does not have a humanitarian reason for coming here, and, it may be a way for an individual to tactfully and safely immigrate to Australia without embarassing the sensitivities of their former states and making life more difficult for themselves. The Greens argue that a program "robs" developing nations but this is nonsense, what happens is that individuals make choices which they are perfectly entitled to make, and, far be it from us to hold them down. Loyalty to nation-building of their respective home countries is not an obligation which I would seek to impose on anyone.


I missed a paragraph there. I meant to say that in Blacktown, in Sydney's Western Suburbs, one can find examples of the most beautiful people I have ever seen: tall, deeply black African people. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that many of these people come from sad countries like Sudan, and that, despite the abysses in our current political leadership, we can provide them with a home and relative peace.

Cry, the beloved country

Sometimes you will see black orators, preaching the gospel, in the middle of the street. It feels like a strange remnant of missionary culture transposed back on to our Empire-derivative country, and, I think, betrays a longing for the sense of community that such a culture brings. It feels like evidence of loneliness, one of the key emotions brought about by dislocation from the homeland.

In Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, Christianity deeply informs the emotions brought about by a divided country - between town and city, black and white, civic and criminal. In it there is the belief in rehabilitation, born more of emotional longing than for any ethical or philosophic reason. I can see elements of apartheid now, in my own country, as well as understand our equivalent obscurity to Africa in the rest of the world. Yet the Truth and Reconciliation philosophy is a program of world interest, because it was new and humanitarian. If I am to believe in anything for the future, I can think of no two words more crucial. I don't want to vanquish my political enemies, because I have no enemies, only fellow citizens.

Beauty and Victimisation

John, the theory is that if we don't give unauthorised arrivals what they want they will stop coming here. Part of this is due to a concern over the risks associated with taking yourselves and your children on to the high seas. This is a legitimate concern but not one the merits victimisation. We don't implement policies against drink-drivers that damage their mental health. Mostly it is because it is politically advantageous to continue to play on xenophobia. If we wish to penalise people for the risks associated with coming here (balanced with the risks associated with not) it should be done, legally, logically, ethically and constitutionally independently from our obligations under international refugee law. To implement anything remotely punitive is to transgress the fundamental democratic prohibition on arbitrary detention and arbitrary punishment.

Burke criticised the government on this issue by stating that most of those who are taken to in Nauru end up being allowed to live in Australia or New Zealand (from where they can then easily come in to Australia). Originally the government wanted to send the Sri Lankans to Indonesia but Jakarta declared it would send them back to Sri Lanka. Expect a farcical situation where the government fails to find any country that will accept them for resettlement (because it is incompetent in diplomacy), before allowing them here as damaged goods, with other people in the community taking responsibility for the painstaking work to undo the consequences of the government’s policy.

I just read in Donald Horne's Looking for Leadership that the government spread propaganda about the dangers of coming to Australia, including sharks and crocodiles, in tyrannical regimes as anti-immigration propaganda. This site (which does itself no favours in credibility with its ridiculous layout) backs up the claim and gives more detail about it, comparing Ruddock to Leni Riefensthal, the Nazi film propagandist.

"Depicting horrifying shots of circling sharks, hissing snakes and snapping crocodiles, the video uses voice-overs of alleged immigrants saying, "Many people drown. I do not know if my family made it."

Of course there is Siev-X to back the dangers of flight to Australia but this kind of material is beyond belief. I think they are unfair to Leni Riefenstahl, who in her post-Nazi career went to Africa to capture on film the sublime physical beauty of the African people. Her propaganda film Olympiad, based on the '36 Olympics, is now well-regarded by respected film critics like Pauline Kael for its sensitive depiction of the multi-racial spectacle and physical beauty of the Olympics. The notion that foreigners might be physically beautiful and improve our aesthetic texture is a concept that is far beyond anything this government is capable of appreciating.

Appreciation - I was mulling over this word last night, and, I think I prefer it now to "integration" as a theory of immigration policy. If our quality of life is to improve it will come about because of an increase in appreciation of our multicultural society, with all its strengths and weaknesses. I think it starts with the eyes - Middle-Eastern people have such wonderful, sad, doe-eyes.

Howard Government policy leaves refugees in limbo.

THE fate of 72 Sri Lankans on Nauru remains uncertain nearly two weeks after they were recognised as genuine refugees because the Government is insisting it will find a third country to resettle them.

So far, no request for resettlement has been made to the six primary candidates - Norway, Denmark, Sweden, the United States, Canada and New Zealand - leaving the men, already held on the Pacific island for six months, in detention limbo.

The Howard Government's cruel treatment. of 72 genuine refugees from Sri Lanka is a shame on us all. Why would we ask another country to take our refugees? This is pure ideology, and has no thought for the mental states of these unfortunate people. Yet another reason to throw this shocking government onto the scrap heap of history.

Selective memory

The more I learn about AMEP the more astonishing it is. Shadow immigration minister Tony Burke claims it was introduced in 1992 but this is nonsense. It is just that previously it was called AMES, replacing "service" with "program". According to Taylor in Refugees and Social Exclusion what Labor did in '93 was to introduce time limits, made some free English services paid and removed services for longer-term immigrants. If this is true, and I intend to find out if it is, Tony Burke's comments are absurdly delusional and self-righteous. Certainly most of the horrors of our immigration system were developed by the Hawke-Keating governments, before being further bolstered and exploited by the Federal government (see the work of Dr. Mary Crock).

From Burke:

"For 11 years, the Howard Government has allowed this program to become stale and outdated. The AMEP was introduced in 1992 by Labor to help new arrivals learn English. But the immigration program has changed significantly over the past decade. We now have many migrants coming to Australia that have never been to school and are not literate in their own language.

Too many people who hit the brick wall when they reach the maximum number of hours they’re allocated, who need to and want to learn more English, but the system is not letting them."

The critique is generally right for the current problems but the historical inaccuracies and omissions are startling. The program as it stands tries to achieve "functional English" which is important, but which is only a bare minimum. Teaching migrants English language skills is important for the quality of life of English-speaking Australians, as it requires extra skill and patience to operate in a world - especially in the workforce - where you cannot guarantee that others will easily understand you.

Translation services offered by DIAC are top-notch and crucial.

The English program was introduced under the Chifley Labor government in 1948 by immigration minister Arthur Calwell, staunch supporter of the White Australia Policy. According to Wikipedia he liked Chinese and spoke Mandarin. He outclasses the opposition leader and immigration minister by about sixty years.

Migrants and refugees were given "pre-embarkation" English lessons on ships en route to Australia. It makes me want to cry. This was even before the Refugee convention in '51. Now AMEP services only those who have been granted a permanent visa, meaning we exclude asylum seekers who are in Australia but have yet to have their application determined. I suppose the modern equivalent of "Pre-embarkation" services would be to teach English in the migrants home country, something many young expatriate Australians do informally in their "gap" years, but which is not possible in the countries where the most significant problems are. The reason we have "unathorised arrivals" is partly because of the squalor and delays of UNHCR camps (sometimes over ten years) but also because you can't negotiate a "proper process" if you are under an unco-operative regime.

Community-driven initiatives

Paul, the services needed for new immigrants are there, it is just that they are largely the result of private and community initiative. AMEP is an English language service funded through DIAC, but if you actually go and look who administers it it is: "schools, colleges and community centres such as churches and mosques." Unless this infrastructure was already there it would not be possible for the government to run such programs.

I think in certain respects our immigration system is first-class but it has nothing to do with the Federal government; rather, it has to do with the sincere interest taken by community groups and individuals. Immigrants themselves are more likely than most to be bilingual and therefore capable of administering the program. Credit also goes to the quality of our education system, and the value placed upon higher education by migrant communities. It is this more than anything which creates the staff-base capable of servicing the needs of new immigrants.

The Government is often good at backing initiative but poor at taking initiative. When it tries to solve problems it seems only to know how to create more. Note the government's history in denying English language services to "unauthorised arrivals" despite their eagerness to learn. In trying to resolve this issue all the Government can think to do is adopt a carrot-and-stick approach. Rather than develop a strategy of mental health care towards asylum seekers, the government expanded the program of mandatory detention and allowed a grossly delayed system of determining claims, which has been shown by a great many academic experts to impact negatively on the well-being of those involved.

AMEP was established, remarkably, in 1948. On its 50th anniversary Phillip Ruddock gave a faultless speech about its worth and impact. He made some remarkable comments about the introduction of indigenous studies in to the program in '97. This too was developed by teachers and not by the government, but its acceptance to me seems a legacy of a different time in Australian history. What is sad is that this is not what we will remember Ruddock for. I was in his North Shore electorate, in Hornsby, on Friday and I noticed there was an adult migrant English centre right next door to his office. In a way Australia is very busy "getting on with the job" whilst the Federal government grapples with problems it has demonstrated itself to be incapable of solving, and, creating many new problems as well.

An exception to me is the member for Greenway. She is a former social worker, has a heavy community involvement and has been secretary of an immigration committee. A speech she made about the Sudanese refugee community to me is statesmanlike. I think she is a serious contender for a frontbench position and a future immigration minister. She understand the importance of community organisations, like the Blacktown Migrant resource centre, established in 1985.

"I want to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge the important work of the Blacktown Migrant Resource Centre, led by the hard working and dedicated Irene Ross. Irene and her team invest enormous energy into assisting new Australians. In the past twelve months the Blacktown Migrant Resource Centre has received record funding – amounts totalling $730, 000 to support community projects.The Federal Government is providing assistance to local people who know best what sorts of challenges are facing the community and I stand next to the people of the migrant resource centre, working for the community."

This is another example of backing initiative, rather than displaying leadership, but it is better than nothing and it understands the importance of listening to people who are already involved in finding solutions.

"The Attorney General’s Department fund an African worker to focus on crime prevention and a community crime prevention committee has been established to work with Sudanese leaders – they have around the clock consultants available to police and are developing recreational activities for young people."

It is very interesting that such initiatives come out of the AG's department. Of course the department is interested in law and order issues, so it is partly natural, but to me it also speaks of a vacuum in the current immigration minister. Earlier in the speech Markus denies there is a "crime epidemic" in the Sudanese community, but she also acknowledges specific incidents and says what the government is doing about it. This is enough.

Missing the subject

The most compelling reason to take up citizenship will be because it may assist in allowing you to bring relatives in to the country, as our system looks more fondly on you if you already have roots here and if you can demonstrate that someone is willing to take care of you. Family is crucial to the lives of new immigrants and once they have secured their own fate, the next step will be to try and do the same for their loved ones.

The Federal government has undermined the centrality of family to foreigners (children overboard), whilst militantly affirming its importance to Australian life. Seldom will they utter a sentence without the word "family" in it any more, and, the opposition does likewise. One wonders if people without families - or, as we used to call them, orphans - have any importance. One of the key reasons people immigrate is for the welfare of their children, yet Australia nurses the fantasy that outsiders are cruel and indifferent to them.

Any citizenship ceremony, tests, and requirements should be built around the needs of immigrants. The immigration minister, on the contrary, devises his plans to satisfy a particular sector of the Australian people who are essentially uninterested third parties. It is against the most basic principle of knowing your audience before you speak or act.

One of the key reasons people come to Australia is freedom, especially religious and political freedom. If I were to devise a ceremony it would be to inform people of their rights, and to affirm their reasons for coming here, the new life they hope to build - not to give vent from malcontents in the community who simply don't want them here in the first place.

It is okay to address community concerns about the consequences of immigration. However, this should not be the basis of all policy initiatives. The minister is an ideologue, and, like all ideologues he is a one-trick pony. Everything he does proceeds from the same framework - which he did not even invent, but rather stole from newspaper clichés - and as such he tries to solve problems without first examining the situation to see where the problems lie. He knows nothing and does nothing.

1998 Constitutional Convention

When I was writing this article, I wanted to include the statistics of people who voted for a delegate at the 1998 Constitutional Convention to highlight our apathy when it comes to democratic values.

A monarchist who I contacted has found the link. Only 46.93% of those who were eligible voted. Check out the AEC details here.

I remember independent Ted Mack at the time being very disappointed with Australians for not putting in a bigger effort. No wonder the republic failed at referendum - less than half the voting population took an interest in it.

Meaningful participation

Paul, there is a whole sphere of post-immigration policy that is as important as the basic decisions we make about who to include and exclude. An education program about Australian culture and political institutions might be beneficial, but only if it has some substantial content. A booklet about Don Bradman, mateship and the "fair go" is not particularly useful and vaguely resembles the utterly superficial education in Australian history that I was taught in the public school system.

It may be important to inform new immigrants of what I would hope to be core Australian beliefs: the equality of the sexes, racial equality and the illegitimacy of "castes" of human beings. It can't be assumed that this is known or accepted, and, it may be of benefit to tell people that certain behaviour is not okay in our society, and that there are support groups available. Informing women that they can get advice about domestic violence, in their own language, from women's legal centres, is the kind of information that can make a huge difference to a person's life and which they may not be aware. Similarly a person may be unfamiliar with our no-fault divorce system and their rights in that regard.

It is only fair that as a country we lay our cards on the table and inform people of the rights, responsibilities and expectations Australia will place upon them. Such issues are not relevant at the juncture between permanent residency and citizenship (which is largely a meaningless step, as Marilyn says) but when people first arrive here. The test is a meaningless gimmick, designed to reward faux assimilation, not substantial and meaningful assimilation.

More crucial will be the provision of English language services, creating opportunities for immigrants to participate in the workforce and sometimes trauma and mental health support. The government has shown scant interest in such issues, in its rush to victimise particularly vulnerable individuals like asylum seekers. We shouldn't balk at the provision of - even the requirement for - information to new immigrants, as most will be particularly eager to learn. Isolation and "otherness" is their primary state and the more we can do to help their transition to meaningful participation in our society the better.

A fine post

Solomon, do you know what makes me sad about your post?

Before I was even born, the first flood of post- WW2 immigrants were on their way and did apparently did it tough if they managed to get past some of the wonkier racial and cultural theories held by Australians back in those days.  I was born in the fifties, saw it all during the waves arriving during my childhood, teens and into adulthood. And  after all these years and all the different waves, the dolts have still not worked out an intelligent process up to deal with migrants up to the level you speak of.

Integration policy

"Integration policy". Well spotted, Solomon. Also applies to Chris's point. It's a cheap us'n them Hansonist ploy for local consumption to "bolster the laager " and applied to newbees in form and content a repressive tolerant process inflicted as "induction", also reminding them of their place within this new location.

In other words, "othering".

From there, continue to Ian Macdougall. Because this nonsense really includes "us", in a subtle psychological way too.

Welcome to the micromangerialism and inquisitionism of the Age of Small Government

A minor one, but yet another pyramid

I have no doubt that the successive pharaohs up to the fall of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt believed most sincerely in the importance of building pyramids in order to give them an enjoyable time in the afterlife. As any traveller knows, the journey often yields more than the final arrival.

But there was a catch in Egypt. In order for the kings and queens to have all that gold and other valuables to enjoy in the afterlife, it had to be buried away out of sight in deep and secret vaults literally covered by a mountain of massive stone blocks. So not  only was all the stuff  in the pyramids removed from the economy, but so was the huge amount of labour that went into the totally useless process of  building the pyramids in the first place. (Oh yes, I know. It brings tourists to modern Egypt to see them. Yeah, right...) 

The net social effect was to take the economic surplus created by generations of farmers, crafts people and slaves and completely blow it. Perhaps an unconscious agenda was at work. If that surplus had gone into education, science, literature and the popular arts, people generally would have been more prosperous and have had greater leisure time. The absolute rule of the pharaohs and their acolytes would have likely become more contentious and less secure.

Every ruling class in history has needed it pyramid building projects. Every little bit helps. Even if its just a citizenship quiz of dubious credibility like this dodgy little exercise here. And why Bradman? Why not Victor Trumper, the great all-rounder Tommy Wills, or all three? And why not throw in WG Grace, even though he was a Pom? He has his relevance to today's Australia, as this site  shows.

What? Never heard of any of them? Consider your citizenship cancelled! You have 24 hours to get yourself out of the country, and good riddance!

There is no requirement

The is no such thing as a constitutional Australian citizen, it is by statute only since 1948 or so. It means nothing much at all really and there is no requirement to be a citizen of this country so no permanent resident ever has to do the test anyway.

Just another waste of our money on trivia.


Fiona, I have no reason to doubt the good sense of the recruitment policy. According to DIAC there are more than 900,000 permanent residents eligible for citizenship in Australia, which seems to me to be a large pool of people which may contain suitable recruits. If you take in to consideration the other information in the FAQ, like the transfer of superannuation from service in other defence forces, it seems aimed at people who were already soldiers and who have migrated to Australia. Incorporating soliders from defence forces in comparable countries seems sensible to me, if not desirable.

My concerns are over the immigration policy. A citizenship test is not an integration policy, it is a piece of kitsch. If the defence force took such a test in to their contemplation of who they recruit, I would be mortified.


Fiona, I uncovered the fact after reading DIAC material that suggested that citizenship is beneficial in that it allows a person to work in the defence forces. I had thought perhaps part of a drive to increase defence force recruitment. I can no longer find that material on the website, or, any material that argues the case for adopting citizenship. My assumption is that the defence force criteria is a policy developed completely independently from the immigration policy and that "eligibility" refers to the usual requirements like residence and does not have the citizenship test at all in its contemplation.

Fiona: Thank you, Solomon. What sort of faith does this interpretation give you regarding (possible) current recruitment policy?

Defence force

What I find absolutely absurd in all of this is that the citizenship requirements for the defence force require only that you be a permanent resident eligible for citizenship. If individuals who are not citizens and subject to this test can serve in the defence of our national security, then it should be sufficient for civilians not to be pestered with it.

Fiona: That’s a really interesting question, Solomon. What – nowadays – constitutes eligibility for citizenship? Certainly the website that you have linked does not make that abundantly clear. An assumed capacity to pass the test, perhaps? That sounds a bit suss to me. But then, who am I to judge?

Tricky. Tricky. Tricky

Chris Saliba says:

Tricky questions like Australia’s indigenous population, and their fate under European settlement, are treated candidly.

That's 'tricky 'at a number of different levels. 

Orlando Patterson's definition of slavery, based around his central concept of 'natal alienation' would more or less compel awareness of the 'stolen generation' kids as having been slaves, and the pastoral industry in this country as having been 'slave based' well into the 1960s, a hundred years after the US abolished slavery

On the other hand, attributing everything that happened in Australia after 1788 to "European" settlement tends to downplay the valuable contributions made to the nation's development by non-European migrants.

Regarding Peter Garret's disappearance from the electoral roll for ten years, I contend that he never actually existed during that time, which also helps explain his near invisibility since going into Parliament.

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