Migrants would soon be able to take free English language classes in the midst of fears of one million Australian people will fail a simple test.
The Morrison Government will announce the reforms today that will also include a revised declaration of principles that those who wish to be permanent residents will need to sign.
But there will be no English test for people as introduced in previous amendments that have been scuttled in the Senate.
In today ‘s address to the National Press Club, Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge will outline his concerns that after 15 years of living in Australia, about half of migrants still can’t speak English fluently.
“This is not to blame anyone whose English language proficiency is poor, but clearly full participation in the community is difficult when there are language barriers,” he said.
“Without English language skills, migrants are less likely to get a job, less likely to integrate, and less likely to participate in our democracy.
“Moreover, living in Australia does not guarantee that English will be acquired. Based on census data, it is estimated that around half of the overseas-born who arrived with no English still cannot speak English well, or at all, after 15 years of residency.”
Mr Tudge said poor English skills would leave the migrants at a disadvantage in the job market.
“And when the number of people with poor English skills is high, our national cohesion is also affected. How can we fully connect together without a common language? How can everyone fully and comprehensively participate in our democracy?” he said.
“Further, malign information or propaganda can be spread through multicultural media, including foreign language media controlled or funded by state players. This can be particularly influential if local residents’ English is poor and hence they are more reliant on foreign language sources.”
“I am particularly concerned about the reach of some foreign actors into our multicultural communities. Members of our diverse communities have been both victims of interference and used as vectors to engage in foreign interference,” he said.
“Despite now being proud Australians, some communities are still seen by their former home countries as ‘their diaspora’ – to be harassed or exploited to further the national cause.
“Some who criticise their former country are silenced through threats and intimidation, including to family members back in their country of heritage. Others are persuaded or forced to monitor or harass members of their own community who may hold views contrary to those of the governing regimes in their former countries.”