Australian Gov’t Adopts ‘Extreme Vetting’ for Islamic Migrants, Reforms Foreign Worker Visas


The Australian government has taken the lead from President Donald Trump in the race to improve vetting of immigrants who may hold hostile Islamic attitudes, and to reform wage-slashing guest-worker programs like the H-1B white-collar outsourcing visa.

“We’re defined by a commitment to common values, political values, the rule of law, democracy, freedom, mutual respect, equality for men and women,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told the media on Thursday, where he described the reformed vetting process:

our citizenship process should reflect that. So today we are announcing changes to strengthen citizenship, to make for a stronger Australia, stronger citizenship, stronger citizen …  before you apply to be a citizen. You will need to have competent English. That is a vital requirement … also, we need to ensure that our citizenship test enables applicants to demonstrate how they have integrated into and engaged with our Australian community, so that they’re part of the community. They’ve lived here as a permanent resident for four years, they speak English, share our values, be integrated. Those are critically important elements. I believe that they will be empowering for applicants. This will be good for the applicants, good for the nation, underlining our Australian values at the very heart of Australian citizenship, Australian citizenship is the foundation of our democracy… these political values are what bind us together. That’s what keeps us together in the midst of our diversity.

The new Australian push is a catch-up from 2016, when Trump championed immigration reform in the United States, while Turnbull sought to stabilize his government after he staged an internal party vote in September 2015 to take the Prime Minister’s job from his own party’s leader, Tony Abbott, an immigration hawk who entirely blocked and stopped a seaborne wave of immigrants from reaching Australia.

To some extent, Turnbull’s flip towards pro-Australian position is designed to help his pro-business wing of the party from Abbot’s pro-Australian wing of the party, and from the growing support being given to Pauline Hanson‘s nationalist One Nation Party, which is skeptical about Islam’s ability to integrate into Australian society. In 2016 and before, Turnbull repeatedly endorsed immigration, invited additional refugees, and told the parliament in October 2016 that “everyone sitting in this chamber and every Australian is a beneficiary of the diversity that is at the heart of our nation … the most effective weapon against the [Muslim] terrorists is an inclusive nation.”

Amid rising violence and welfare use among immigrant Muslims, a September 2016 poll showed that half of all Australians want to block Muslim immigration, which is strongly supported by business groups which profit from the inflow of extra consumers and lower-cost workers.

Turnbull’s minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, told reporters at the press conference that would-be immigrants will have to take an upgraded written test:

There will be further tests, further questions placed in the test as it currently operates, and there will be the opportunity for people to comment on some of these changes over the course of the next, over the course of the period between now and 1 June. So we will consult around the questions around the values issues and we can provide further detail. There is also change to be made to the pledge and, again, we’ll consult on that particular issue as well. So I’ll leave it there. For example, domestic violence, a perpetrator of domestic violence. My view is that that person shouldn’t become an Australian citizen. And we can ask that question but we can also undertake our own checks in relation to police checks or whatever the case might be. So that’s how you can adopt, apply the test.

On the 2016 campaign trail, and in his Executive Orders since his inauguration, President Donald Trump has called for a new process of “extreme vetting” would-be refugees and legal immigrants — especially Muslim immigrants — into the United States. For example, his January 27 Executive Order on immigration declared that his policy would be to exclude people with “Hostile attitudes”:

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

The alliance of Democratic-appointed judges, progressives, and Islamic political groups are fiercely opposing any new tests, even though the existing immigration and citizenship process already includes questions and tests designed to exclude people who were terrorists or members of the Nazi or Soviet communist parties. The current immigration document also includes a requirement stemming from the 1775 war of independence which requires immigrant aristocrats to formal give up their noble titles before becoming citizens.

If U.S. immigrants lie in their documents, they can be stripped of their citizenship and repatriated. For example, U.S. officials have deported several immigrants who lied about their work for Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist party in World War II.

U.S. officials have not said anything about the plans for upgrading the immigration tests and vetting, partly because Trump has not yet been able to get many of his top-level nominees confirmed by the Senate. But Homeland Security John Kelly may be a strong backer of an upgraded test, and told a D.C. audience on Tuesday that “we have a sacred duty and that is the continuation of the United States as we know it: To protect our way of life and the exceptional people we are.”

Australia’s reform government has an easier task than Trump, who must overcome roadblocks built by progressive judges, media and Democratic legislator and Democratic legislatures in a 50-state federal government for 330 million people. In contrast, Australia’s parliamentary system allows a majority government to easily pass its agenda for the nation of 25 million people.

Throughout the April 19 Australian press conference, the journalists and politicians tacitly recognized the problems created by the immigration of Islamic adherents who bring their peculiar institutions and values which endorse domestic violence against women, child marriage, ‘Female Genital Mutilation,’ and reject the authority of what Australians describe as “secular law.” For example, one reporter cited several of Islam’s peculiar practices before asking “Prime Minister, I’m not clear why practices such as female genital mutilation, forcing children to marry and what have you, how they’re being or could be included in values questions when they’re already illegal under Australian law.  What’s the need for a values question when it’s illegal under Australians law, Australian law? that “these values [in the test] aren’t really enforceable outside of the law. If someone passes a test and says, “Tick, yes I don’t beat my wife. Tick, I know who [cricket player]

Another journalist scoffed at the test, saying “these values [in the test] aren’t really enforceable outside of the law. If someone passes a test and says, “Tick, yes I don’t beat my wife. Tick, I know who [cricket player] Don Bradman is. I’m an Australian citizen” And then they don’t express Australian values, what happens?”

Turnbull pushed back, saying:

But the point is, what [the current written test] doesn’t go to or doesn’t go to sufficiently are those questions of values and at the heart, at the very heart of our success is mutual respect; respect for each other, respect for people of different faiths and different cultures and respect of women and children. That is, you know as I’ve, you’ve often heard me say this. You know, not all disrespecting women, disrespecting women ends up in violence against women but that’s where all violence against women begins. So this is a very important, very important Australian values; respect, mutual respect, respect for women and children and that is going to be, that is a key Australian value, who would argue with that?  Is it reflected in our current process? No it’s not, it should be.

On April 17, Turnbull announced his party would reform the “457” visa program, which allowed Australian companies to bring in foreign workers for skilled and unskilled jobs throughout Australia. The 457 visa will be replaced by a narrower visa program that will only be used to bring in workers who cannot be found in Australia and who can integrate Australian society, he said.

That push is also similar to Trump’s effort to revamp the unpopular H-1B white-collar outsourcing program.

Echoing Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” theme, Turnbull said that the goal os his reform is “Australian jobs for Australians first … this is all about Australians’ interst, this is about jobs for Australians.” The new program will have a “laser-like focus on Australia’s interests,” he said.

“We’re putting Australians first … Australian workers must have priority for Australian jobs,” he said.


This article has been updated with additional information about Australia’s rising support for nationalist policies. 

Follow Neil Munro on Twitter @NeilMunroDC or email the author at



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