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I have signed up to Australian values!

15 November, 2007

I have been following with interest the “integrationist” turn in global immigration politics: it is remarkable that a self-described immigrant society like Australia is explicitly following, among others, the example of such a self-described non-immigrant society as Holland in introducing citizenship testing and value statements. It is no less fascinating that when European governments, and now Australia, have felt that they needed to come up with a set of values for the purposes of (symbolic) immigration controls, they have invariably emerged with tolerance, equality (specifically of women and sexual minorities), and freedom of religion — rather than the alternative set of Christian values. This was so even though in many places the tests were spearheaded by conservative parties such as the Christian Democrats in the Netherlands and the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, whose constituencies probably include significant numbers of people who would not pass the test. (E.g. the Baden test, later scrapped, included questions like “Your adult son declares that he is homosexual and would like to live with another man. What do you do?”)

Well, now I am applying for permanent residence in Australia, and to do so, I need to sign an “Australian values declaration.” (If I don’t, I can’t keep my job after my business visa expires.) I am able to do so in quite good faith, as I indeed value individual freedoms, equality of opportunity and “fair play” as well as acknowledge the English language as a “unifying element of Australian society.” (“Multiculturalism” or “diversity” is not mentioned as a value, but non-discrimination is.) Despite having mixed feelings about the introduction of such tests and pledges, I think this is quite a good statement, because it doesn’t place limits on individuals but rather seems to focus on expanding everyone’s freedoms.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Michaela permalink
    15 November, 2007 8:54 pm

    Here’s hoping Australia follows in some of The Netherlands other policies, like paid maternity leave for example…and flexible work hours on returning to work after having a child… it is interesting what is adopted and what is not.

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