Migrants wanting to become Australian citizens, and accept the responsibilities of loyalty, voting and abiding by the rule of law, will now:
- have to wait at least 4 years, instead of 3
- take a "citizenship test" of 30 questions, from a bank of 200, and including understanding of English, history, system of government, sporting traditions and mateship.
I will not debate the merits of these, only the political motives behind them.
Mr Howard had two problems: Kevin Rudd's new leadership was still attracting much media attention, giving the Labor Party much needed "good press"; and the results of polls on voting intentions and preferred Prime Minister. He needed a distraction, and just 1year and 1 day after the Cronulla riots (and associated media coverage), he could give some elements who talk of "Aussie pride" a reason to support him ... this was John Howard's way of jumping up and down, saying "pick me, pick me!"
It's all about timing ... and image.