Australia’s right-wing nationalist party has introduced a new policy under which immigrants who are unable to learn English within 18 months of their arrival could face losing their welfare benefits.
According to the radical new plan, released by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, new arrivals to the continent would be required to develop their language skills.
Failing to do so within 1.5 years, the immigrants would be deprived of their Centrelink unemployment benefits, which totals around $550 a fortnight in Newstart payments.
Mark Latham, One Nation’s News South Wales leader, said the new policy is aimed at tackling ‘ethnic enclaves’.
‘Unless you have an incentive, people will continue down the current path which is a disaster for Australia,’ Latham told Daily Mail Australia on Friday.
Around 820,000 people across Australia can speak little or no English, as per the results of the 2016 census.
‘It’s a startling insight into how divided and segregated our society’s been,’ Latham said, adding how the refusal of immigrants to learn English has been worsening for the last decade.
‘A blase attitude, “You can’t pick on anyone who doesn’t speak English, that’s their right”,’ he said. ‘It’s not a right in Australia.
‘It creates separatism. People don’t have a common bond of citizenship, of belonging to the same society.’
‘I’ve seen changes in western Sydney in the last 10 years that I never thought I’d see, and a lot of it is based around welfare dependency and non-English speaking ethnic enclaves,’ Latham added.
‘It’s a product of low-skill migration, it’s a product of certain ethnic groups that congregate in the ethnic enclaves.’
The former leader of the Labor Party argued that 18 months is enough for anyone to learn English.
‘To get a job, it helps to speak English,’ he said. ‘To participate in community groups, lead a good social life, indeed it’s essential to speak English.’
Latham also pointed out how Islamic radicalization was more rampant in areas with higher welfare dependency and lower levels of English, though he didn’t directly link terrorism with non-English speaking immigrants.
‘If you look at the map of terrorism-related arrests in western Sydney, there is a correlation between ethnic enclaves and those locations,’ he said.
According to One Nation’s policy document, the party wasn’t targeting Muslims.
The document notes that several Muslim communities across the country such as the Indian-Fijians had been ‘good citizens’ who ‘worked and studied hard’.
‘A major issue of public debate in NSW is the question of Islamic integration,’ it said. ‘One Nation has no beef with any race or religion.
‘We abhor a discriminatory, sectarian approach to politics.’
The state government-funded Multicultural NSW has, however, decided to shift its focus from giving grants to different ethnic groups to helping them learn English.
‘One Nation will change the focus of the chief ethnic affairs body, Multicultural NSW, from “celebrating diversity” to facilitating unity,’ the document said.
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