As JFK said in Berlin in 1963
Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was ‘civis romanus sum’. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’
To be a Roman citizen implied a number of rights, including the right of being tried in Rome before a Roman magistrate.
The ancient Roman traveller used various forms of identification to prove his citizenship, including decrees and signet rings.
Today we use passports which provide evidence of citizenship and (some) proof of identity. With an Australian passport, the bearer has considerable freedom to travel in the world.
This is a bit like a driver’s licence. It should be viewed as both a right and a privilege. Bad drivers cause harm – there are significant negative externalities from poor drivers occupying our roads.
So too there are significant negative externalities when poor travellers use an Australian passport.
Thus we should have an Australia passport exam. Just like a Driver Knowledge Test, we need an International Traveller Knowledge Test. This would be a detailed oral and written exam (fully user funded) which would aim to ensure that citizens issued with a passport have reasonable common sense, can conduct themselves appropriately when overseas, know their responsibilities, understand the risks of overseas travel and know the extent of Australian Government assistance provided when travelling.
The International Traveller Knowledge Test (ITKT) would be a natural complement to the English Language Consular Service System. It could include questions such as:
What is the capital of Indonesia?: (a) Bali, (b) Jakarta or (c) Java
What should you do if robbed while overseas?: (a) Panic, (b) Visit the local Police, (c) go to the ELCSS
What is the currency in the Eurozone?: (a) Yen, (b) Euro, (c) Pound
What is that which in the morning goes upon four feet; upon two feet in the afternoon; and in the Evening upon three?
What is the main language spoken in Bangkok? (a) Bankokese, (b) English, (c) Thai
What is the estimated flight time from Sydney to Singapore?
What type of drugs can you take to Indonesia?
What does an Ambassador do? (a) Represent lost Australians; (b) represent the Government; (c) sacrifice his/her liver for his/her country.
Is it ok to lend your passport or sell your passport to a friendly local?
What is a visa? (a) a type of credit card (b) a document issued by a foreign country allowing the bearer to enter (or apply to enter) the country (c) a car.
Which Australian passport would you like to buy? (a) the blue passport; (b) the green official passport; (c) the red diplomatic passport.
Any other good questions for the exam?