Peter Dutton has outlined his priorities for the Home Affairs portfolio. Picture: AAP
Peter Dutton has outlined his priorities for the Home Affairs portfolio. Picture: AAP

Kids should pledge loyalty to Australia: Dutton

PETER Dutton has suggested all schoolchildren should take a pledge to uphold Australian values in a revamped civics course as part of broader efforts to counter violence and extremism.

The Home Affairs Minister has also flagged the government will make a second attempt to add an English language proficiency requirement to the Australian citizenship test.

In a major speech in Canberra today, Mr Dutton highlighted efforts to counter violent extremism, cybercrime and organised crime as key priorities for his new super portfolio.

He indicated Home Affairs would renew its efforts to counter violent extremism through its migration and citizenship programs, and that schools also had a part to play.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has flagged the government will make a second attempt to add an English language proficiency requirement to the Australian citizenship test. Picture: AAP
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has flagged the government will make a second attempt to add an English language proficiency requirement to the Australian citizenship test. Picture: AAP

"In my view, there is a place for the [citizenship] pledge in a broader rejuvenated civics effort with school-aged children, regardless of their background," Mr Dutton told the National Press Club.

"It behoves all sections of society to reaffirm our nation's core values through our words and our deeds," he said.

Civics courses needed to honour Australian institutions, such as its democracy and press.

"There are lots of people who come to our country that have come from a war-torn Africa or parts of the Middle East that haven't seen institutions like ours in full swing," Mr Dutton said. "We should talk a lot more about it.

"What form that takes, we're happy to have that discussion but we should be proud of our heritage, in its continuation and the fact it has provided us with what we have today and we shouldn't be embarrassed or shy away from that."

Mr Dutton also declared the government would work with the crossbench this year to introduce a new package of reforms on the citizenship test after last year's attempt was blocked in the Senate.

He linked the reforms to efforts to counter violent extremism.

PM Malcolm Turnbull at the Australia Day 2018, National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith
PM Malcolm Turnbull at the Australia Day 2018, National Flag Raising and Citizenship Ceremony in Canberra. Picture: Kym Smith

"We ask aspiring citizens to pledge and affirm loyalty to Australia and its people, whose rights and liberties I respect and whose laws I will uphold and obey," Mr Dutton said.

"The overwhelming majority of migrants do just that. They pledge their loyalty, they uphold our laws, they integrate and make an enormous contribution to the success of this nation.

"But when second and third generation Australians are overrepresented, among legions of foreign fighters and our nation has been tested by foreign espionage and interference, there is a need to broaden the scope of the work."

He also flagged he would review legislation to strip Australian citizenship from dual nationals who travelled overseas to join extremist groups, as only one person had so far had citizenship removed under these laws.

Mr Dutton said stripping the Australian citizenship of a dual national who lied in their application to become a citizen would be far easier.



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