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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1292 asked in the Legislative Council on 30 October 2019 by Hon Simon O’Brien

Minister responding: Hon S.M. Ellery
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 30 October 2019


1292. Hon SIMON O'BRIEN to the Minister for Education and Training:

I refer to the minister's response to my question without notice 1267 yesterday seeking information on why the government is going to give precedence to fee-paying students of one ethnic group over others, including Australians, in part because, and I quote, ''We have been approached by representatives from Chinese education agents''.

What will the government do if it is approached by representatives of Japanese, Indian, Malaysian, Filipino, Thai, Ukrainian, Italian, Spanish, Syrian or Venezuelan education agents, and are positions at our highest achieving public schools really going to be sold to commercial interests?

Hon SUE ELLERY replied:

There are a couple of things. I do not accept the premise of part of the member's question about Australians being excluded, so maybe I will start from the beginning. The international education program —

Hon Simon O'Brien interjected.

Hon SUE ELLERY: Let me answer your question, honourable member.

The international education program runs across a spectrum. We want more international students to come into our schools so that they understand and get an appreciation of Western Australia, their families visit and they think about studying either at TAFE—we have also announced opportunities at TAFE as part of our international education strategy—or at a Western Australian university. The range of measures put in place include, for example, principals of what might be described as mid-tier secondary schools across Western Australia, including regional Western Australia, having got together and developed a marketing program to attract more international students from around the world to those schools. The select academic program is one part of a much broader, much longer spectrum of international education mechanisms.

To answer the last part of the member's question, I remind members that since 1984, across various shades of government, Western Australian public schools have been accepting fee-paying international students so that —

Hon Simon O'Brien interjected.

Hon SUE ELLERY: Honourable member, I am answering the question.

The PRESIDENT: Member, you do not get a supplementary. The Leader of the House is on her feet.

Hon Simon O'Brien: It was an unruly interjection, not a supplementary!

The PRESIDENT: It was a very unruly interjection and I have noted that.

Hon Simon O'Brien: I apologise, Madam President.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you. Leader of the House.

Hon SUE ELLERY: It is a broad program across the spectrum. The academic select program is one, and it is with our biggest trading partner, whereby we know we have international students keen to come and study at our public schools. If there is no capacity at those schools, they will not enrol students for that year. It is a broad spectrum to do two things. It will increase the number of international students who study at not only our schools but also our TAFE colleges and universities, because international education is about family members and others coming to visit and spending their money while they are here, and it is about jobs. International education actually increases jobs—it does not diminish jobs. Our international education spectrum needs to be across the board. This is one part of it and I hope it is very successful.