Keep but modify citizenship test (JAN)

31 January 2008

Media Releases 2008

Australia should keep the citizenship test but orient it toward the future rather than the

past, according to Sustainable Population Australia inc (SPA).

SPA National President, Dr John Coulter, says intending citizens should certainly think

of Australia’s past.

“But it is even more important that they understand the present and can participate in

building a sustainable future for their country of adoption,” says Dr Coulter.

“We cannot change the past but together we are engaged in building our future.”

The Citizenship Test is based on a 46-page booklet. On page five it details 10 Australian

Values and, by implication, the rights and responsibilities of Australian citizens.

“Protection of Australia’s unique natural environment is not among them,” says Dr

Coulter. “Yet several recent surveys have shown that environment and an

environmentally sustainable future is one of the top priorities of present citizens.”

According to Dr Coulter, the booklet does mention that Australia is a dry, old continent

with only six per cent of the land area arable and much of the inland desert.

“It mentions a harsh and difficult environment for humans. Under the responsibilities of

the three levels of government, however, it seems no level, other than local government,

has any responsibility for managing this difficult natural environment and protecting its

unique flora and fauna,” says Dr Coulter.

“A search of the 46-page booklet reveals that ‘natural environment’ occurs only once,

‘Nature’, ‘sustainable’ and ‘sustainability’ not at all,” he says.

“Australians are not living sustainably now. Australia and Australians have no viable

future unless environmental sustainability becomes central to our national agenda.

Australians and intending citizens need to recognise this.

“Those seeking citizenship should identify with this large national agenda. They can

assist older Australians in the task. And from among those who seek Australian

citizenship we need to encourage those who understand and are willing to engage in this


“That is far more important than attracting ‘skills’ needed to prop up existing industries,

some of which are not environmentally sustainable,” Dr Coulter says.

Further information: John Coulter 08 8388 2153


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