Nov 22, 2008

World - Australia drops cricket from citizenship test

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia is to modify a test for prospective new citizens to exclude questions on history and culture, and specifically cricket legend Sir Donald Bradman, a government minister said on Saturday.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said that following a review by seven eminent Australians, the Labor government had decided to modify the test, saying it should not be a "general knowledge quiz."

The test was introduced under conservative former prime minister John Howard, and originally included a controversial section on Australian history and culture.

This has now been relegated to a non-testable section of a book for prospective citizens, Evans said in a statement.

Evans said the focus of the new test would be on a pledge of commitment that new citizens are required to make.

"The pledge is about our democratic beliefs, our laws and the rights, responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship," Evans said.

"It is crucial that prospective citizens understand these concepts so the questions on the new test will focus on the commitments to the pledge rather than being a general knowledge quiz about Australia."

In other changes, the book for prospective citizens is to be rewritten in plain English and the pass mark for the test will be increased from 60 to 75 percent, with no mandatory questions.

Bradman, who still has the highest career Test batting average of 99.94 more than half a century after he retired from Test cricket, is a national icon and legend in Australia. He died in 2001.

Shortly before Bradman's death at the age of 92, then prime minister Howard named as the "greatest living Australian."

(Editing by David Fox)

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