This is a phone conversation between Miss Miao, a Mandarin-speaking woman, and an officer at the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Miao is making enquiries about applying for Australian citizenship.
DIAC Officer: Good morning. Department of Immigration and Citizenship. How may I help you?
Miao (苗): 嘿，你好，我想问一些问题，跟如何成为澳洲公民有关。[Hi there. I have some questions about how to become an Australian citizen.]
DIAC Officer: OK, no worries. Perhaps you can start by telling me a bit about yourself? Miao (苗):好的，我叫苗素，中国人。去年12月份我和一位澳洲公民结婚了。他是布里斯班市的议员。我们一直在讨论我是否需要申请澳洲公民的事儿。他说，即使我是他的配偶，我还是不能自动拿到公民身份。是这样吗？[OK. My name is Miao Su. I’m Chinese. December last year I got married to an Australian citizen. He’s a councillor of the City of Brisbane. We’ve been discussing whether I should apply for Australian citizenship. He said, even as his spouse, I can’t automatically get granted citizenship, is that true?] DIAC Officer: Yes, you’re right. Partners of Australian citizens do not have an automatic right to Australian citizenship. They need to apply for citizenship and satisfy the eligibility criteria in the same way as other adult applicants.
Miao (苗): 是的。我还知道，要成为澳洲公民的话，我需要放弃中国公民身份。真是左右为难啊，毕竟祖国是生我养我的地方，所以在决定之前，我觉得我得好好权衡一下。
[Yes. I also understand that, to become an Australian citizen, I’ll have to give up my Chinese citizenship. I’m really conflicted about this. After all China is the place I was born and raised. So I think I’ll have to weigh things up carefully before I make a decision.]
DIAC Officer: Well, I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have.
Miao (苗):好的，如果我成为公民的话，需要对澳洲尽什么样的义务呢？[Well, if I do become a citizen, what obligations do I have to Australia?]
DIAC Officer: Well, as a citizen of Australia there are a number of obligations you have. Firstly, you must obey all of Australia’s laws. Secondly, you have to defend Australia should the need arise. Thirdly, you are required to serve on a jury if called to do so. Oh, and one more thing that’s very important – you have to vote in all elections held.
Miao (苗):我明白了，我的理解是在公民申请前，我必须是一直居住在澳洲四年以上，并持有有效的澳洲签证，对吗？[I see. My understanding is that I must have been living in Australia on a valid Australian visa for four years before applying for citizenship, is that right?]
DIAC Officer: Yes, that’s right.
Miao (苗): 哦，这没问题的。我五年前来的澳洲，那会儿我是教芭蕾舞的。自始至终我都是合法待在澳大利亚的。[Well that should be no problem. I came to Australia over five years ago. At that time I was a ballet teacher, and I’ve been living here legally ever since.]
DIAC Officer: And have you been absent from Australia during that period?
Miao (苗):每年春节我都飞回去中国见我的家人。我去年还参加了全球巡回演出《罗密欧和朱丽叶》，总共花了三个月的时间，我们去了温哥华、西雅图、墨西哥城等等。这些算不算？[Every year I fly home to see my family during Spring Festival. Last year I performed in Romeo and Juliet on a worldwide concert tour. The whole thing lasted three months. We went to cities like Vancouver, Seattle, Mexico City, and so on. Do those times count?]
DIAC Officer: Yes, that does count, as it is a requirement of the application process that you must also have not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total during that four year period.
Miao (苗): 应该没问题。我回国一般只待不到一个月的时间。我还听说要成为公民的话得通过一个考试，这考试通过率怎么样？[That should be fine as I never go back for longer than a month or so. I also heard that you have to pass a test to become a citizen of Australia. What’s the pass rate like?]
DIAC Officer: The pass rate? Wow. That… I’m not too sure about. However you should know that all applicants must pass the citizenship test before they can submit their actual application.
Miao (苗):那考试是什么形式？考试是最伤脑筋的事情了。您可不可以就考试的这些题目给我举些例子呢？[So what’s the format of the test? Exams are such painful things. Could you give me some examples of the kind of questions that appear on the test?]
DIAC Officer: Well, there’s a whole range of different types of questions. Some are relatively simple and just require common sense to answer. For example, it may ask you where Australia’s Federal Parliament is located – that’s in Canberra, of course.(…)Others – like Australia’s first PM – well, may be trickier. The answer to that one, by the way, is Sir Edmund Barton. Another difficult one is, “What is Australia’s national flower?” The answer to that is the golden wattle. Don’t worry – many Australians don’t know that either.
Miao (苗): 那考试有没有参考材料？[So are there any reference materials available for the test?]
DIAC Officer: All the material used in the exam is drawn from the official guide called “Becoming an Australian Citizen”. You can download it from the department’s website.
Miao (苗):这个没问题，我们中国人最擅长死记硬背啦。多少分才算通过？[That should be no problem. We Chinese are the best at learning by rote. What mark do I need to get to pass it?]
DIAC Officer: A mark of 75% – that’s 15 out of 20 questions correct – is required.
Miao (苗):谢谢您的帮助。还有一个问题我想问，考试有没有中文版本？[Thanks for your help. One more thing I’d like to ask – is the test available in Chinese?]
DIAC Officer: No, I’m afraid the test is only available in English. I guess we’ll leave it there then. I wish you all the best with your application.
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