Australia’s new citizenship test: swear allegiance to Queen and Coal

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The Coalition government’s new citizenship test appears to include talking points that might have been prepared by the coal industry in defending their role in climate change.

Details of the extraordinarily complex reading material that new citizens are being asked to comprehend, in preparation for their citizenship tests, have been revealed in The Australian newspaper, which was concerned by the level of complexity in the language.

What struck us at RenewEconomy from the examples used by The Australian was the nature of the content. It looked like marketing spiel from the coal industry, so we checked it out further.

Take this, for example:

“The worldwide coal industry allocates extensive resources to researching and developing new technologies and ways of capturing greenhouse gases. Efficiencies are likely to be improved dramatically, and hence CO2 emissions reduced, through combustion and gasification techniques which are now at pilot and demonstration stages.”

And then there is this:

“Clean coal is another avenue for improving fuel conversion efficiency. Investigations are under way into super-clean coal (35 per cent ash) and ultraclean coal (less than 1 per cent ash). Super-clean coal has the potential to enhance the combustion efficiency of conventional pulverised fuel power plants.”

And on it goes. You can read more here.

But having absorbed this, the hopeful new citizen is then given some practice multiple choice questions. Such as:

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 1.18.51 PM

And then:

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 1.52.47 PM


Now, we wouldn’t want any new citizens to get any fancy ideas about wind and solar, would we? But would anyone care to hazard a guess as to what the correct answers are? The truth or the marketing?

It makes us think if there was a real test about climate change and coal, some of the Coalition’s most prominent climate deniers, as well as the likes of One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts, should be thankful that they are already citizens.

In fact, we suspect that Dutton himself might struggle to pass the test. Someone alert passport control!

(Note: We’ve updated the second screenshot).


  • Ruben

    B, C?

  • Keith

    Is this a joke?

    • Just_Chris

      I have to admit I wondered the same thing. It is truly shocking, whats next questions on evolution? or questions about how Muslims cause terrorism?

  • Tim Buckley

    Unbelievable! But with this Federal LNP COALition – we seem to get use to hearing the utter ridiculous from them.

  • Brunel

    Are not the 2 screenshots the same?

    • Just_Chris

      Congratulations you passed, welcome to Australia.

      • Yes, you have passed. well done, maaaate. You an Aussie now. And we’ve updated the screenshot to show more questions. Hope you know the answer!

        • Chris Turnbull

          I’m paywalled by The Oz. Is this real? Please tell me RenewEconomy is not joining the growing swathe of satire publications…

  • hugh grant

    Surely this is a joke?

    • Mark Roest

      That’s what a lot of people here thought on Election night. Sorry.

      • Vicki Stevens

        Yep, there must be a lot of sorry voters around Australia at the moment !

    • maniK

      It aint no joke.

  • Mark Roest

    Orwell, 1984, Australia style.

    It looks like they are taking a page from Trump / Sessions / Georgia Secretary of State, et al. Don’t let anyone vote who may vote progressive. And it’s become apparent that Trump is using identity politics as a screening tool — if you’re not on our side, you’re the enemy, and if you care about nature or other people, and especially if you like renewable energy, you are probably not on our side — and it’s possible that this disease is so contagious that it can cross the Pacific Ocean and the Equator via the Internet, and infect those predisposed to it by being neo-conservative in outlook and taking donations from coal lobbies.

    • wideEyedPupil

      Very clumsy Orwell though. It’s keystone cops level Orwell. So pathetic. You can practically smell the putrification of the coal industry when they have to stoop this low.

      • Tony Scanlon

        You don’t need much sophistication when Queensland and WA inbred bogans vote for Pauline Hanson, or the Nationals; and Rupert Moloch controls the bulk of Ozmedia outlets.

    • Vicki Stevens

      I knew our politicians would be licking that mad mans arse, gutless weak individuals, happy taking handouts to please the few, rather than duty of care for the mass!

  • Damon Schultz

    Is this a joke? Seriously, this reads like satire…

  • phred01

    c how many lib polies would pass the test to get into parliment

  • Logical

    Just how far can this group of lunatics in government go???
    We urgently need an end to ALL political donations

    • Vicki Stevens

      We urgently need to stand up and end this farce that is our government – our rights our being eroded, our voices are being eroded and the powerful elite are pulling the strings on the jokers who are supposed to be working for US, the people of Australia.

  • aussiearnie

    Indoctrination: the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.

    • wideEyedPupil

      The desperation though to get their propaganda out?! Maybe is thinking of putting this on his CV for Life after politics on a chush fossil fuel board.

  • Jeff Wehl

    Ah the best satire these days is real. This is truly stunning!

    • Vicki Stevens

      Stunning or terrifying ???

  • Ian

    WTF…was this set of q’s printed on April 1?
    How an alternative set of questions:

    From the following list,
    1/ Which of the above are the least polluting?
    2/ Which is the most polluting?

    3/ Is there any such thing as clean coal? Please circle
    Yes / No

    4/ Given that Australia is one of the sunniest countries in the world , do you think solar energy isa good idea?
    Yes / No

    • ChrisAR

      But then they wouldn’t be allowed into the country! LOL

  • John Saint-Smith

    Maybe they just found this coal ‘white washing’ propaganda piece just lying around by chance… or maybe they were just lying.
    I noticed that the ‘current’ population of the planet was put at 5 billion, so that suggests the document might have been created about 25 years ago? That would be consistent with some of the other bizarre claims about ‘clean coal’ technology, and this ‘dated’ gem:
    “The worldwide coal industry allocates extensive resources to researching and developing new technologies and ways of capturing greenhouse gases.”

    I think the coal industry stopped paying for research into CCS decades ago. These days they concentrate on spreading propaganda, and funding conservative political parties. Almost all of the pilot CCS power stations have largely been funded by governments, and have all suffered enormous cost over-runs and under-performance set-backs.

    From “Ultra-Super Clean Coal Power” in the Conversation 20/1/17
    “The [U] NSW was funding “supercoal” research for air-pollution reasons from the early 1980s. Climate change entered the fray in 1988, when delegates at the Australian Coal Association conference were told:
    Coal’s contribution to the greenhouse effect is small… Means of controlling C0₂ emissions from coal-fired plant are considered best achieved by improved overall operating efficiency using new technology, rather than by endeavouring to capture C0₂ emissions.”

    That such outdated, and outrageously false ‘source material’ should be used, even in a sample, speaks volumes of the depths to which this COALition will sink.

    Last, and probably least surprising is the fact that the document describes coal with 35% ash as ‘super-clean’. Actually it’s super dirty – virtually unusable in any power station. Perhaps it should have read 3.5%? What’s a poor applicant for citizenship (who happens to be a mining or electrical engineer) supposed to think?

  • Tim Forcey

    When working with a certain QUANGO, a colleague of mine started to write a document with “Australia’s largest energy source is coal…”. I had to point out to the colleague that the statement was technically incorrect. Fortunately my point was accepted readily… and we did not have to go outside to have a look up at the sun…

    • Joe

      …there is no sun down a coal mineshaft

    • Vicki Stevens

      Good one !! 🙂

    • Meg Nielsen

      Well done Tim!

  • Peter

    This text looks like it’s from an IELTS Reading test, not the Citizenship Test itself. Under the proposed changes, applicants for citizenship will be required to achieve an IELTS score of 6.0. This is an outrageous demand and way above what other western nations require, but has no sinister implications in terms of demonstrating support for fossil fuels; many other texts encountered in IELTS tests discuss renewable energy and other environmental issues in a rational way and this text is just an unfortunate random selection.

  • MaxG

    I am gob smacked…if it were April 1st I would call it out… so, does this mean they only let coal friendly people into the country now? One way of increasing votes for your party, select them based on your policies. Ridiculous!

    • Vicki Stevens

      Truly makes you wonder . . .

  • Ren Stimpy

    “Yes yes George St to Macquarie St short journey short journey. We go via Penrith. Short journey. How you day been mate? How about that coal eh mate?”

  • Macabre

    I suggest the inclusion of the following question:

    The coal industry in Australia

    (1) Has the COALition government by the balls
    (2) Has no realistic plans for, nor any serious intention of taking any meaningful action to reduce greenhouse gases
    (3) Is am embarrassment to all Australians
    (4) All of the above

  • john

    Well obviously Astryla only wants those who meet the test.
    It used to be the White Astryla policy now it is the Right Astryla Policy.
    Who was the clown who had the brain failure to allow this dismal pathetic example of dismal fantasy.
    It seems one should not be surprised at the level of base stupidity that is exhibited by those who allow such rubbish.
    I fully expect a new chapter for science students exalting the the benefit for the planet by increasing the CO2 percentage along with NO2, NO3 and Methane.
    Are we in 1984 you had better bet your life we are going on this pathetic example.

  • Carl Raymond S

    Question 5.
    The sexiest man in Australia is:
    A. Malcolm Turnbull
    B. Josh Frydenberg
    C. Tony Abbott
    D. Barnaby Joyce

    • Joe

      and E. Peter Dudton

    • wideEyedPupil

      F. A cage wrestling fight will be scheduled to determine the sexiest man in Australia between these great men.

  • Jo

    how far are we from April 1?

  • Jo

    this must be fake news

  • JohnRD

    What have they got on other topics? Why the Greens are evil? The reef is just a navigation hazard?

    • Rikaishi Rikashi

      I’m surprised they don’t have a spiel about Marxism.

  • Ian

    I’m so glad they have clarified the definition of clean coal. It’s about the ash content. It’s got very little to do with CO2 emissions

    • wideEyedPupil

      Or NOx, SOx, PM, benzines, heavy metals, isotopes… or extraction emissions from diesel or transport emissions (PM etc especially the rail line from the hunter valley to port)

  • Peter

    This is not the citizenship test! It’s a random sample of practice material for the English test!

    • Steve Johnson

      So it forms part of the English Test, which is a part of the Citizenship Test? Ok.

      • Peter

        As this old test is in the public domain it can’t be used again in a real test. This is a storm in a teacup.

        • Tony Scanlon

          Random sample? A chance to get the coal message out again, more likely. Your defence is both Bullshit & Bollocks. Only the LNP would use the opportunity to flog the dead horse of coal in this way. Expect the abysmal worst from this mob, and you’ll never be disappointed.

          • Peter

            I defended nobody. I merely stated the obvious fact that the government/LNP has no influence over the content of IELTS tests, which discuss a wide range of topics. If you don’t believe me, just google ‘IELTS Practice Reading Tests’.

  • Shane White

    Hmmm, who are these people? They are a combination of –
    1. An executive non-departmental public body of the UK government
    2. An ASX listed company
    3. Part of the University of Cambridge.

    Proof –

    1. “IELTS is jointly owned by the British Council, IDP: IELTS Australia and Cambridge English Language Assessment.”

    2. British Council: “As an executive non-departmental public body, we are called annually before the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee to give evidence on British Council activity as part of the committee’s inquiry into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Performance and Finances and, upon request, called to the Public Accounts Committee.”

    3. IDP:IELTS Australia: “IDP Education Limited is an ASX listed company that is 50% owned by 38 Australian universities.”

    4. Cambridge English Language Assessment: “As part of the University of Cambridge, we are committed to making the following classes of information available to the public:
    Who we are and what we do
    What we spend and how we spend it
    What our priorities are and how we are doing
    The services we offer.”

    Weird. And so many universities involved!

  • Ken Fabian

    Slipping that into the English Language test is bizarre; there is no reason to choose content like this except to be provocative, and as a demonstration of the pro-coal, anti climate action ideological position of the government minister involved. Presumably anyone objecting will be deemed to be a supporter of Islamic extremism as well as being an economy destroying climate radical.

  • Geoff Mosley

    Here is the question ‘Will you agree to keep coal down under?

  • adamatsya

    i agree – that’s a page from the ielts test, not the aust citizenship test. the australian article is behind a paywall too – what was the gist? are the aus gov insisting people who study for the cit test do the practise test on the pro-coal page?

  • Stephen Boris

    These are questions for NZ.

  • Anthony Fordham

    The answer to question 1 is A B and D right? Should it be: “Which of these has NOT contributed to the global increase in greenhouse gases?”

  • DarylMc

    Are you sure about the accuracy of this article?
    I could not access the link to “the Australian” but I did search for the content.
    All I could find was that this seemingly pro coal material was in a course building resource for English language.
    I don’t believe it is associated with any citizenship test.

    If that is true your article is quite misleading.
    If the article is accurate the news is very serious.
    Do you have any other sources to back this headline?

    • Andrea

      The material is from an English test developed in the 1990s. The article is clearly clickbait. I agree that RenewEconomy is spreading misinformation. But reneweconomy is just an advertising site. You always need to check its claims by going to the original source.

      • wideEyedPupil

        Andrea’s blog and the Green Left newspAper (which carries ads) are the only news organisations in Australia that aren’t “advertising sites”. Thanks be to God.

      • DarylMc

        I like this site.
        They should have the chance to provide a link to back the claim.

    • The gist is that Nick Xenophon and other parties were concerned about the complexity of the language in the English test for new citizens. This was reported by both Murdoch and Fairfax media. Murdoch media produced this material as an example of the sample papers that applicants are advised to read. And that is indeed what it is. Aspiring citizens are being recommended material that include industry propaganda. If you think that is fine, then good.

      • DarylMc

        No I don’t think it is fine and I made that quite clear.
        What I dispute is the accuracy of the claim.
        The excerpts were not from a citizenship test in any way as far as I can tell and to suggest otherwise I think you should supply a link.

      • DarylMc

        Think about it this way.
        Would you like to see my question and your response reposted on other media sites?

  • Andrea

    This text actually dates back from LAST CENTURY! Try google search with a custom date.

  • ChrisAR

    What the hell is the right answer to any of those questions? Where is the answer option ‘None of the above’. Well it is similar to the questions my kids get in their ‘science’ exams at school – a load of bollocks.

  • Chained_Phoenix

    It has to be fake… “more cleanly” isn’t even english, the word is cleaner.

  • Joe

    …..and “CLEEEEEEN COAL” is clean because it cleans the atmosphere by sucking out carbon dioxide….and every New Citizen gets a complementary lump of “CLEEEEEN COAL” to take home and hug

  • Sou from Bundanga

    I hope this is a joke. In case it’s not, the person writing the questions would get a Fail.

    As it is, 1) has at least 3 correct answers.

    2) doesn’t have any correct answer. Maybe they meant GHG emissions from human activity, and even then they’d have to specify a time constraint.

    3) I’m not sure how any of that research would result in “increasing the energy efficiency of coal”

    4) is meaningless, IMO. There is no such thing as clean coal, whether surrounded by quotation marks or no. If they insist, then all the answers are a “may”.

  • Vicki Stevens

    Not sure if I should be rolling around on the ground laughing hysterically or marching on parliament demanding a sane explanation?

  • Henry Curtmantle

    Nothing to do with the govt. Simply a sample passage from the IELTS website. …Other sample topics: Robots, classifieds, bicycle riding, history of cinema, bee behaviour, product recalls.

  • Stop spreading misleading news….

  • neroden

    Um, do you have any ways of suing the government in court for this? Because this is completely ridiculous. Requiring people to spout *lying propaganda for the coal industry* on the citizenship test has to be contrary to the Australian Constitution, surely?

  • Tony Scanlon

    I wonder how many Pollies could provide a definition of “attributed”?

  • Befuddling

    I’m not entirely sure which answer the questioner wants in question one. The correct one (in fact the correct ones), or some response that aligns with the “we just dig it up and ship it off – it’s not our fault if someone actually BURNS this crap!” mentality?

    Is Kim, who has just arrived from what used to be the ‘third world’ and is now a ‘developing’ country, supposed to say “Yeah, it was those idjits back home, burning all that pretty Australian coal we bought, that belonged in a museum”?

    When is this ‘clean coal’ supposed to emerge, by the way? It’s like a politician’s promise – dragged out as needed, but never likely to be more than a myth. I see from Wikipedia that the US has run trials for the last fourteen years – all failures. The article also points out that most of the world sees the term ‘clean coal’ as an Orwellian oxymoron. In fact, I realise now why our esteemed Minister brought a piece of coal into the Parliament; it belonged there! A dinosaur, fossilised, and representative of an Orwellian oxymoron – must have been right at home.