Source AP ©

Lawmakers endorse citizenship test in Australia

Legislation that won from government lawmakers Tuesday would require prospective Australian citizens to take a test and will be introduced to Parliament this week.

Under the proposed law, immigrants would have to correctly answer at least 12 out of 20 multiple-choice questions about Australian history and values to receive citizenship.

The legislation was endorsed at a meeting of coalition government lawmakers. But one lawmaker has refused to support the bill, a government spokesman said.

"The argument was that there would be people who would not be able to pass this test due to literacy problems," said the spokesman, who briefed reporters on the customary condition of anonymity.

In keeping with convention in such briefings, the spokesman would not identify the lawmaker.

Citizenship Minister Kevin Andrews said last week that a basic knowledge of English combined with study would be required to pass the test.

Applicants who fail would be able to retake the test. The cost of applying for citizenship would double to 240 Australian dollars (US$197; EUR146).

Opposition lawmaker Daryl Melham has described the test as absurd, offensive and obscene - saying it is designed to limit the origin of new Australian citizens to certain countries while excluding others.

Andrews said last week that he wanted the legislation introduced to Parliament during the current session, which ends Thursday.