Australian govt pushes easier language test for new citizens

The Australian government says it's prepared to relax its proposed English language test for new citizens as a compromise to get other tough new restrictions on attaining citizenship through Parliament.

Immigration and Borden Protection Minister Peter Dutton said on Thursday his conservative government was prepared to reduce its proposed English language skill threshold from "competent" to "modest:" a level of basic communication with many mistakes. Language skills are not currently tested in the Australian citizenship process although some English is required.

The Senate had set a deadline which passed on Wednesday for the legislation to be debated. The government let that deadline pass because there was no chance of the legislation being endorsed by the upper house.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten suggested the government abandon the changes.