Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) — On the evening of Tuesday, 3 April this year, I, along with the future deputy leader of this country, Julia Gillard, attended the Wyndham City Council Australian citizenship ceremony. It was the largest ceremony of this type that I have experienced and definitely the largest the Wyndham City Council has conducted. Over 265 people from more than 40 different countries made a conscious decision to become Australian citizens. The atmosphere was joyful, only enhanced by the wide grins and laughter from children who were about to have photos taken with their parents and other relations.
Many spoke to us about the new immigration laws and the new citizenship tests, which expect immigrants to answer a 45-minute to 60-minute test on a computer.
What of the many proud immigrants I have seen at these ceremonies who have never been to school, who are illiterate in their own language and who have never held a pen? Special arrangements are supposedly going to be made for them, but what will they be? None of us knows.
This policy, combined with the fact that the federal government provides only 510 hours of English language courses for immigrants, will deny dedicated Australian immigrants the basic right to be Australians, it will make these ceremonies a much poorer event and it will provide a two-tier Australia. On the night I — —
The PRESIDENT — Order! The member’s time has expired.