Announcements on offshore temporary visa holders soon

By Our Reporter
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. File pic

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is hopeful that Indian international students will be able to come to Australia at least by next year as state governments are working with the federal government on how quarantine arrangements could work for vaccinated students coming into the country.

Addressing the Indian media online on a wide range of issues yesterday, the Prime Minister said, “Hopefully even before the end of this year, but certainly for next year, I would hope that we’d be able to be having those students back and it’ll be one of the key changes that we will see. So, a very positive program.”

Adding to the information, Alex Hawke, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs of Australia, said, announcements for temporary visa holders who have run out of the visas and are still offshore will be coming in the very near future.

“We’re working on how to make sure we accommodate everything that’s happened to people through no fault of their own. And that is coming very shortly. I know there’s a lot of people waiting on this announcement, but it won’t be too long. I’m working very closely with the Education Minister, as I said earlier. We’ve got a strong instinct to have flexibility for people to continue,” said Hawke.

He also added that the Government is working closely with the universities and the private education sector to make sure that “we’ve got the right mix of incentives and visa conditions to take up the opportunities post the pandemic.”

Hawke allayed the fears that Canada and the UK were becoming better destinations for students. “At the moment the experience of students studying online are going well… There’s still great demand for the Australian education product, and we want to make sure that that is taken up again as soon as possible. Some of the products that have been offered offshore have been varying in experience.

“One of the things people like about Australia is the safety, the good employment circumstances, the opportunities for their children to come and study here. So the work that you would expect to be being done is being done behind the scenes to be ready to enable international students to return. We miss them. And we’re finding our businesses miss them, our education facilities are missing them, obviously. That exchange is vital as well for our country.”

In relation to travel, Hawke said for the moment the Government will be focussing on returning Australians. “Once we get through that phase it is a huge priority for people to be travelling back to countries because, as you know, almost everyone here in Australia has lost sometimes two, three or four family members back in India because of the Delta variant. And we’re very conscious of that. They haven’t been able to have their last funeral rites, their faith traditions. It’s a big psychological issue for the Australian diaspora. We’re very conscious of it and we’re working, as you’d expect.”

Morrison said that the National Plan provides for vaccinated citizens to be able to go and come back and have a modified form of quarantine. “And the home quarantine trials that are underway now is the scalable, safe way of achieving that.”

He said while there has been a great disruptive impact to the sort of migration linkages with India, it is still “incredibly important” and lauded the contribution of Indian nationals to Australian society. “That goes without saying, the shared values. It’s such an easy translation from India to Australia and the entrepreneurial spirit that that brings and the family values just, it’s obvious, but it is an important part of our economic plan is the resumption, the reconnection of our migration links with India, not just in students, but I mean, particularly in terms of skilled migration. This is a big and important part of our plan.”

Asked if Australia will accept Covishield as an approved travel vaccine, the Prime Minister said, “Ultimately, that’s a decision for the Therapeutic Goods Administration, as you know, those decisions aren’t made by politicians and nor should they be.”

He added that Covishield is the same vaccine as the one manufactured effectively in Australia, the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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