Heritage, mate?

I thought I’d pre-empt Troppo superposters Ken and Nick – not to mention Monday’s Missing Link – by remarking on this story, which has done the rounds of the leading Australian blogs already. Judaeo-Christian heritage? Perhaps Judaeo-Christian-Greco-Roman-Euro-Anglo heritage might be more accurate. Not to mention a rich Sino-Indo heritage in places like Darwin. Not to mention dozens of culture groups predating the arrival – indeed the formation – of the Judaeo-Christian-Greco-Roman-Euro-Anglo heritage.

What a stupid question. What a bloody obvious dog-whistle for happy clappies and old farts hoping to skip over purgatorial detainment.

Will Rudd give it what for? Or will “Christian Socialism” prevail?

Correction: Geoff Honnor points out that the “questions” are in fact a bit of trolling on the part of my sometime employer News Ltd. If like me you fell for it, well … YHBT. YHL. HAND.

Update: Gummo from LP keeps following the trail.

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22 Responses to Heritage, mate?

  1. Geoff Honnor says:

    More to the point, it’s actually a non-story :) These aren’t “the questions.” They’re News Ltd’s punt at what the Citizenship Test questions might look like.

  2. Jacques Chester says:

    Ahhhh, so I’ve failed to RTFA. Most excellent.

    I hand in my internet hipster card.

  3. Not just you, Jacques – they conned Irfan Yusuf, the folks at LP and us at Catallaxy too – not to mention a few others. Got a link Geoff?

  4. Geoff Honnor says:


    “Mr Andrews and Prime Minister John Howard dismissed a newspaper report which listed 20 questions which could be in the quiz.

    “We’re going to have a booklet which will talk about the history of Australia and our structure of government and the importance of sport in the national life, and canvass some of Australia’s great sporting heroes and all of that sort of thing,” Mr Howard told reporters in Townsville.

    “But those questions in the paper this morning are not ours.”

    Sounds like the real ones could be even more dodgy….

  5. mangoman says:

    Have a look at the summary of responses to the Discussion Paper on the DIC web site. The discussion paper is sloppy and some of the statistical work looks dodgy. There is just a small chance that the subject gave a few of the people from out there where the buses don’t run the chance to put views they would keep to themselves in polite society.

  6. Geoff Honnor says:

    Bureaucracies are innovation-averse. In this particular context, the default response to a government request for a Citizenship Test will be to look at what’s currently on offer in Europe in North America and adapt accordingly. I imagine that the final product will end up looking not dissimilar to the Canadian Citizenship Test.

  7. Thanks Geoff. I suspect you’re right – they won’t want to get too daring.

  8. david tiley says:

    If they have to do it in a hurry, then I can see a whole bunch of refugees looking very confused at a piece of paper which says:
    “which of these pictures shows a moose?”

  9. … those questions in the paper this morning are not ours.

    Ah, the old “It was Dolly!” excuse.

    How about this for an alternative, conspiracy theoretical, explanation: the statement from Howard and Andrews, with its careful choice of tense – “those questions … are not ours” – shows that those questions were theirs, but after 18 hours of negative feedback they decided to drop ’em.

    If it was a troll by The Hun, it wasn’t just bloggers who got taken in.

  10. Amanda says:

    Well then. It is not a “non-story”, it becomes a vastly more interesting story. Basically flat out lying by News Ltd, the “these are our trolling guesses” bit is buried very deep.

  11. Well, someone’s definitely lying, Amamda.

    This News page is quite explicit in citing its sources:

    An exclusive insight into the likely content of a new ‘Aussie values’ test for potential Australian citizens which will come into effect later this year.

    Sample questions devised by the Federal Government:

    Nothing about “this is our guess at what it looks like” there.

  12. Oops – make that “alleged sources”!

  13. Geoff Honnor says:

    Well it’s not quite flat-out lying either. If you follow the thread back – and check the Gummo-provided links – it originates in a Kevin Andrews response to general media questions about the test last week. The DIAC website is also hosting a Q and A about the process, along with a discussion paper about the test. So, it’s all, about “questions” and News Ltd (the “20 questions” story ran in all the metro tabloids on Friday) may have decided to tweak the questions energy a little. Nowhere have they definitively said that their 20 are “official.” They’ve said it’s “a preliminary look at some of the questions” etc, etc.

    It could be a ministerial office leak – or a departmental leak of the draft – but two questions look deeply shonky on that count: The “form of government” (there are actually two “right” answers) and the Australian values question (it looks like something the Tele would be more likely to float to cause a shitfight than the considered selection of a committee of Canberra bureaucrats.

    I notice that the ABC website has removed any newslinks to assertions about the questions being official nor do they seem to have run TV/radio news stories about it over the weekend.

  14. Geoff Honnor says:

    “Nothing about this is our guess at what it looks like there.”

    Well no. Obviously you’d say something like “an EXCLUSIVE insight into the LIKELY content of a new Aussie values….” because then everyone sees “exclusive insight” and no-one reads “likely” :)

  15. Guess we’ll have to wait for Monica to tell us what’s going on/went on!

  16. jack strocchi says:

    Gummo Trotsky Posted on 20-May-07 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Nothing about this is our guess at what it looks like there.

    In fact the link that Gummo pointed to contains this rider:

    An exclusive insight into the likely content of a new ‘Aussie values’ test for potential Australian citizens which will come into effect later this year.

    I think the added emphasis is self-explanatory. Next time look before you leap to conclusions.

    It is also ludicrous for people who fell for oxy moronic concepts like “multiculturalism” and “post-modernism” to quibble about the odd question in a civics test.

  17. Jack,

    I quoted that bit didn’t I? Along with the second line that you decided to omit, so I’ll repeat it here:

    Sample questions devised by the Federal Government:

    There’s a pretty clear and unambiguous claim there old son.

    Your comment gives the impression that you’ve been hanging out too long for the opportunity to take a cheap shot at yours truly. Pity it backfired.

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  19. gandhi says:

    Was this a desperate government making up policy on the run?
    The Herald Sun story, which seems to be the originating point, cited an official government source:

    Office of the Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews, Canadian, British and US citizenship tests

    But I think this Reuters story by James Grubel holds the key:

    Andrews on Friday said the government had not yet decided the questions to go into the citizenship test…

    So James Grubel actually bothered to ring the source and verify the facts for himself! A lesson there for all of us, I think.

    Grubel’s article appears to have been filed at 2:14 am on Friday morning, Canberra time: it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that the government would have pulled the questions so quickly.

    The good news from all this? Hopefully Australian media sites will not be so quick to jump on future News Ltd stories without some independent verification. Don’t trust Murdoch journos!!!

  20. The questions may or may not have eminated from the government – Senate Estimates Committee may clarify that in the next day of so – but what is beyond dispute is that the Budget stated that an extra $123 million will be spent implementing and administering the new citizenship test, including over $16 million for Orwellian sounding Australian values statements and Australian way of life booklets. In addition, permanent and long-term temporary visa applicants will be required to sign a statement that acknowledges they will respect the Australian way of life and abide by Australian laws, before a visa will be granted.

    For a government that likes to slag off people who promote symbolism ahead of practical measures, $123 million is a lot of money to spend on jingositic symbolism when there’s a lot of practical things it could be spent on to improve integration of migrants and residents.

  21. Pingback: Club Troppo » Missing Link: YHBT. YHL. HAND.

  22. Just to put the issue of the source of the questions as close to beyond doubt as is possible, I asked as clear-cut a question as possible of the head of the Immigration Department and the Minister representing the government at the Senate Estimates Committee hearing. The response was a flat denial that the questions came from the government and a clear statement that the original media outlet was false in stating that the questions “were devised by the federal government”. I still think the citizenship test is unnecessary and a waste of $123 million, but it appears that one can’t criticise the government on this occasion about the content and intent behind the questions, seeing they didn’t devise them.

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