Questions that Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton plans to introduce for people applying to become an Australian citizen have been questioned as being unsuitable, and in some cases potentially discriminatory.

It has been reported that the new values test that all applicants will be asked to complete under new rules currently being discussed in Parliament include asking about domestic violence, girls being excluded from education and genital mutilation.

Australia Citizens

(Markus Mainka/​

Various groups have voiced concerns that such questions, if they are indeed included in the final values test, are racist and geared to particular immigrants such as Muslims. However, it is not clear if the actual values test will be written and made public before the Bill is made into law.

Dutton has denied the changes to the citizenship test are aimed at deterring Muslim immigrants, adding that 99% of Australia's Muslim community were law abiding citizens who would find domestic violence abhorrent.

However, one academic has described such questions as draconian and suggested that the values test oversteps the mark. Kim Rubenstein, a professor in the College of Law at the Australian National University, said aspects of the bill would give the Government unprecedented power.

According to the Settlement Council of Australia, which represents refugees and minorities, singling out certain 'crimes' smacks of 'racial profiling'. 'It is likely to send a strong message that the value of some migrants is lower than others. The proposed changes could have the opposite effect, degrading social cohesion, promoting disloyalty and even leading to greater risk of radicalisation,' it said in a statement.

There is also concern that the Bill before Parliament would give Dutton the power to overturn citizenship decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), which makes judgement on visa and citizenship appeals.

According to Fiona McLeod, president of the Law Council of Australia, the decision is based on a small set of cases, when the AAT makes thousands of immigration related decisions every year, some 76,000 in the last two years and around 33,000 relating to immigration.

'It is concerning that a small sample of cases, where the full facts are not entirely known, is being used to legitimise the expansion of Ministerial power. The Immigration Minister already has the power to appeal AAT citizenship decisions that he disagrees with. The Minister also has wide powers to cancel an individual's visa on character grounds before a citizenship application is made. This new legislation effectively allows the Minister to override citizenship decisions or to render his own decisions unreviewable,' she said.

Dutton believes that the new laws would help maintain strong public support for migration and the value of Australian citizenship in what he described as an 'increasingly challenging national security environment'.