Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism Michelle Rowland met with members and leaders of the Indian community this week in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
Ms Rowland visited the Hoppers Crossing Sikh Temple, and discussed the impact of Tony Abbott’s unfair Budget with community members.
The Indian community expressed deep concern about the Abbott Government’s changes to higher education, cuts to health, changes to the non-contributory (parent) visa, and the proposed watering down of the Racial Discrimination Act.
“Many families migrated to Australia to give their children the best education possible. Now the Abbott Government has made it even harder for low and middle income families to send their children to university.No matter where you grew up, where you live or how much money you earn, all Australians are entitled to a good and fair education,” Ms Rowland said.
She added that Tony Abbott had ripped $80 billion out of health and education and is planning to introduce a $7 co-payment for routine trips to see the doctor. “These cuts will make life much harder for families already struggling to make ends meet,” she said.
“The Indian community is also furious about changes to the non-contributory (parent) visa which mean that unless they can pay up to $120,000 upfront, they have no chance of ever bringing their parents to live in Australia,” she said.
She believes the Abbott Government has callously closed the door on family visas, abandoning migrant families and communities across Australia. “The decision was made in a sneaky move by the Government and, it appears, with absolutely no consultation with the Indian community,” Ms Rowland said.
Many members of the Indian community who spoke with Ms Rowland were also highly distressed about the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
“It is increasingly clear that Indian communities in Melbourne, and right across Australia, are opposed to these changes which significantly weaken protections against racist hate speech. These changes should not be allowed to make it to the floor of the Parliament.These proposed amendments show the Abbott Government’s alarming lack of understanding and appreciation of the dynamics of Australia’s diverse society,” Ms Rowland said.