Friday, 28 June 2013
Higher Education Support Amendment (Asian Century) Bill 2013; Second Reading
I thank Senator Eggleston for allowing me the opportunity to conclude this debate on the Higher Education Support Amendment (Asian Century) Bill 2013. Again, what a shame it is that the debate is being truncated, but we have come to expect that in the last fortnight. I will focus for a few moments on the benefits to Australia—and, indeed, to the region—of a program such as this one. It is an excellent program, which I support, noting that it was copied from the coalition. I compliment our deputy leader, Ms Bishop, for her activity in this area.
There are tremendous benefits from this program, not the least of which are, as Senator Eggleston has mentioned, closer trade, diplomatic and cultural ties. But the other big benefit, which is often overlooked, is the enormous boost to tourism that occurs as a result of overseas students coming here. It is the catalyst for their family members, extended families and friends to come and visit Australia. Should those people be young, they themselves, in their turn, encourage others to come. I have employed many young Asians in businesses that I have run in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, and the fact that they have studied at Curtin University in Western Australia, the University of Western Australia or Edith Cowan University forges great links for the future between our state, our country and the countries in that region.