As reported in this morning’s Age, the Victorian government has introduced legislation to ensure overseas students cannot successfully use equal opportunity laws to receive public transport concessions. There is a case before the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission alleging the policy that allows domestic but not international undergraduates to receive concessions discriminates on the basis of race.
I had an opinion piece in Education Age earlier this year arguing that the concessions should not be granted. In her second reading speech, Transport Minister Lynne Kosky makes similar points:
Providing transport concessions to private full fee-paying overseas students would be very costly. The money used to pay for extending the scheme to these students would have to come from another area of budget and could impact on other service improvements if the entitlement was granted. In addition, it would be inconsistent with the terms of the students’ entry into Australia. When private full fee-paying overseas students gain a visa to study in Australia, they must demonstrate that they are already fully self-sufficient and able to meet all their living expenses, including public transport expenses, while they are here. The students are required to pay substantial fees to study for their degree and, at the same time, they are also not eligible for benefits such as Medicare, Newstart allowance or Austudy. Unlike Australian citizens, permanent residents and students with refugee status whose intention is to live and work In Australia on an ongoing basis, there is no expectation that private full fee-paying students will continue to live in Victoria beyond completing their education.
Pretty clearly this was not, in any case, an instance of racial discrimination. Continue reading “A racist ticket policy?”