Well, I’m gobsmacked again. I cannot believe the response to this urgency motion to question jobs in Australia that international students may be taking from Australians. I won’t deny international students bring a lot of income—actually the third-highest income into Australia, by all means. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection granted 343,035 international student visas in 2016-17, and these visa types are growing at a rate of 10 per cent a year.
I have to say, in relation to a lot of these universities in Melbourne and Sydney, that I was at a meeting just recently and a student from down in Melbourne got up and was talking to me and she was actually crying. She said, ‘I feel like a foreigner in my own university.’ That’s what she said, with no prompting—nothing. She wasn’t the only one; another one said that to me. So this is actually how they’re feeling in their own universities; they’re feeling like foreigners in their own universities.
The vast majority of these international student visas have a work right of up to 40 hours a fortnight during the term and unlimited work rights at other times. Let me repeat that: unlimited work rights at other times. When they get the visas to come into the country they should prove that they are self-funding—that they really don’t need to work. And it’s true: we estimate that about 30 to 50 per cent of the international students with a work right do work. But it’s ridiculous that no-one in government knows which students work, how much they work, where they work or whether they report their earnings to the ATO. So are we getting tax from them? Who knows? We don’t know that.
What we are saying is that at the point in time they are granted visas to Australia, those foreign students should be applying and getting a TFN so that when they go to work we know what income they’re making and that they pay taxes in this country. The whole fact is that if we have changed to having backpackers pay tax from the first dollar they earn, and at 15 per cent, why shouldn’t international students do exactly the same thing instead of just being out there taking the jobs? This is the case.
These questions could be answered if the government routinely linked administrative data and cross-matched it with census data. We know from a study published this year, based on the 2011 census, that international students are employed predominantly in 10 occupations: hospitality; cleaners and laundry workers; sales assistants; food preparation assistants; food trade workers; personal carers; checkout operators; tertiary education teachers; automobile, bus and rail drivers; and packers and product assemblers. They don’t need education; there are a lot of people out there who can do those jobs. These occupations are predominantly lower-skill jobs which could be done by Australians—in particular, by young unemployed Australians.
Listen to the Labor Party, who is supposed to be for the worker. Yes, they parade their unions around and say that the unions are fighting for the rights of the workers and all the rest of it, but what about the rights of the youth and unemployed? What about them? Why aren’t they addressing that? It is One Nation with an apprenticeship policy: in the first year the government pays 75 per cent of the wage, in the second year it pays 50 per cent of the wage and in the third year it pays 25 per cent of the wage. Let’s get apprenticeship schemes going in this country.
A government senator interjecting—
Senator HANSON: What have you done about it? Absolutely nothing! Let me tell you about some of the youth unemployment rates in these areas. Youth unemployment was a big problem in the year ending August 2017. In the 15 to 24 age group, 35 per cent are unemployed in Australia.
Senator Chisholm talked about James Cook University in North Queensland. In Townsville there is a 46.4 per cent unemployment rate for those aged between 15 and 24. Let’s go to the Sunshine Coast: 37.1 per cent. In Brisbane, we’re looking at an average of 43 to 45 per cent. These are people who are looking for jobs. These are our kids, Australian kids. They can’t get jobs.
You’re more concerned about international students. I’m not knocking them coming here; yes, it makes us a lot of money. But why don’t you get out and look at what they’re doing in this country by us giving them work visas? They should be supporting themselves. If we talk about housing: international students can buy established housing. But the fact is that their parents buy the houses for them, so the parents own them. They are supposed to sell that house before they leave the country. They don’t; they actually then have a house in Australia. So therefore we’ve got another market out there. They’re paying all the rent, are they? Well, a lot of them are actually in houses bought by their parents.
The whole thing is that it needs to be looked at. Are they paying taxes in Australia? How many jobs do they actually have? A lot of it is under the counter; they’re being paid cash in hand. We need to look at this with international students. My concern is for Australia and Australian kids. They are who I am concerned about. They are who should be getting these jobs. As I said, 343,035 international student visas were allocated in 2016-17. That is in one year. How many foreign students do we have in this country now? Can anyone tell me? Is it up to a million students? How many jobs are they taking? No wonder we’ve got so much unemployment, underemployment and casualisation of jobs in this country. Where are the unions speaking up about this?
I’ve seen both sides of politics in here. This has been escalating the problems. Rural and regional areas are dying because kids are leaving the towns because they do not have jobs. And you are not doing anything about it! All I see in here are people who are hypocrites. Because we are doing something about this, all you can do is direct your fingers and say that raising this issue is about racism. Well, I can tell you that One Nation is a party that is standing up for the Australian people about jobs and about people paying their taxes. I am here to represent the Australian people, first and foremost, and to worry about everyone in this country, as are my colleagues. When you get your act together and know how to run this country, we might get ourselves out of $504 billion of debt that is heading towards $600 billion. I think both the coalition and the Labor Party, while you’ve both been in government, have done a very good job in raising the debt of this country. It is lucky that One Nation is here because we can keep you on your toes and start really addressing the true concerns of the Australian people.
Chamber Senate on 17/10/2017 Item MATTERS OF URGENCY – Student Visas Speaker:Hanson, Sen Pauline/ Parliament Transcript used for reporting News