Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has shown support to a proposal from Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge for mandatory English language tests for all new permanent residents.
Tudge, Turnbull and other senior ministers are concerned that by 2021, more than 1 million people in Australia could have little or no English skills.
"It is plainly in everybody's interests that ideally everyone should have English language skills," Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
Tudge will table in parliament the idea of a stricter English language test as part of a larger move to address social integration issues, with some 200,000 new permanent residents entering Australia every year.
The minister will express the government's concern over "more social fragmentation" due to poor English language skills, in a speech to Sydney Institute on Thursday.
"It has been suggested that basic conversational English capability should be required before receiving permanent residency," Tudge said in his speech, a copy of which was obtained by The Australian newspaper.
The Labor opposition had expressed concern about a previous proposal from the government, currently blocked in the Senate, which would have required all people applying for Australian citizenship to pass an IELTS Level Six test - the same level as is required for university admission.
"We understand that there've been some concerns raised about the level of the English test and we're looking at that to make it more like a conversational English at a primary school level being the initial goal," Turnbull said on Thursday.