The ABC is today carrying a story titled “Lockdowns have mostly ended, but the scarcity of international students is impacting Australian businesses”.
It is only one of many such stories that have been appearing, where employers complain about the drop off in international student numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic.
And why are they unhappy about the students not being there? Because, as you no doubt know already, they want to use them as workers.
This is a rolled gold scam. It has been growing for years, but until the pandemic came along, employers were able to get away with it on the quiet. Now they have been flushed out, brazenly demanding the return of the “students”.
The only legitimate reason why students should come to Australia is education. They come to study, to get a qualification which is useful to them and to their country, and then return home to use that education for their benefit and for their country’s benefit.
The way in which the international student program has been prostituted to become a migrant worker program is scandalous. First, its advocates describe it as a massive “export industry”, but if the students have to work in Australia to fund their studies, it is not an “export industry” at all – the student fees are coming from within Australia. Second, it comes at the expense of unemployed, underemployed, and working Australians, who should have job opportunities, job security, and a fair chance of wage rises. Third, it regularly involves the exploitation of the students themselves. Aided and abetted by Government policies holding out the carrot of permanent residence to the students, unscrupulous employers have been shamefully ripping them off.
Far from going back to business as usual, we need to take this opportunity to clean up this corrupt program. The carrot of permanent residence should be withdrawn, and working rights pared back. Students should come to Australia to get an education, full stop. Universities should go back to being educators rather than migration agents. And employers should pay Australian workers a decent wage, with appropriate training and job security. All Australian workers are entitled to no less.
The Hon. Kelvin Thomson
Sustainable Australia Party