397. Hon CHARLES SMITH to the Minister for Education and
I refer to the Australian Labor
Party's immigration spokesperson Kristina Keneally rightly attacking
the explosion in temporary visas across the Australian economy, claiming
migrant workers were undercutting locals and contributing to Australia's
chronically low wage growth.
(1) Can the
minister explain what at first glance appears to be a contradiction between
Labor's federal spokesperson and the McGowan government's
stance on temporary work visas and international students in particular?
(2) Does the minister
concede her support for back-door immigration through WA's tertiary
education system is building an economy based on temporary migrants, as stated
by Kristina Keneally?
(3) Why is the
minister aiming to import over 100 000 international students, with a significant
number having working rights on temporary visas, who compete head-to-head with
our own kids for entry-level employment?
(1)–(3) I reject the assumptions and the pejorative
language in the honourable member's question. The international student market is an important part of the WA
economy in normal circumstances. The current situation has greatly
impacted international student numbers around the globe. It is important that Western
Australia is in a strong position post-COVID-19 to attract international
students and the $1.9 billion they contribute in export income to the Western Australian
economy as well as approximately 14 600 full-time jobs in the sector. Questions regarding the federal Labor
Party policy should be referred to the federal Labor Party.