15. Australia’s values are based on the …
a. Teachings of the Koran
b. The Judaeo-Christian tradition
The correct answer, apparently, is B, despite the clear statement in the Constitution that Australia should have no established religion. This, combined with the implicit requirement to repudiate Catholicism and Islam, violates the spirit of the Constitution and probably the letter of anti-discrimination law.
That’s by far the worst, but there’s plenty more. For example, to get full marks you have to say that Australia is not a monarchy (Q5) but that our head of state is Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (regarded by most as a monarch) (9). Of course, the questions of who is our head of state, and whether or not our system is a monarchy have been the subject of sharp controversy in the recent past (for example, who should open the Olympics). I wasn’t even sure which answer was supposed to be right on the Head of State question.
All these questions should be scrapped. But if all that is left is a set of easily-memorized answers to Carmen Sandiego questions like “Australia’s national flower is …”, there seems to be little point in having a test at all.
As pointed at by Geoff Honnor at Troppo, Howard denies that the sample questions are genuine. Applying the careful parsing necessary with both the government and the Murdoch Press, I can come up with two possible interpretations:
(i) The Herald-Sun made the questions up, but ran a report with the natural reading that they were from a sample test made available by Kevin Andrews (‘given an exclusive insight’, ‘sample questions highly likely to be in the test’) and so on
(ii) The questions were from a sample test made available by Kevin Andrews, but since it wasn’t part of an official test, Howard feels free to disclaim them
As regards motives, (i) suggests a standard beatup, while (ii) suggests either a trial balloon or a dog-whistle exercise designed to stir up controversy (successfully, though maybe not with the reaction they hoped for). More at LP