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Monday, 3 March 1997
Page: 1137

Senator BROWN(8.22 p.m.) —I am replacing Senator Margetts essentially in responding to this legislation on behalf of the Greens. I will refer to her excellent notes in doing so. The Senate is debating two bills which deal with education services for overseas students. The first bill—the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration of Providers and Financial Regulation) Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1996—is a non-controversial bill which extends the current act until 1999, due largely to the failure of the states to implement their own regulations by the existing expiry in 1997. It should be noted that this is not the first time that we have had to extend the act for this reason. Senator Margetts trusts that it will be the last.

The second bill—the Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration Charges) Bill 1996—is more of a problem because of the manner in which education service providers are being charged to cover the costs of maintaining the Commonwealth register of institutions and courses for overseas students. As the bill currently stands, English language intensive courses for overseas students' colleges which run English language intensive courses for students from elsewhere around the world, will bear a large burden of this cost because of the structure of the charges, which do not acknowledge the reality of short intensive courses.

Senator Margetts originally circulated an amendment which attempted to rectify this situation. The government has now moved some of the way to acknowledge the issues which she raised by means of their own amendment. Senator Margetts, therefore, will not proceed with her amendment. The government amendment is not ideal, but it does at least go some of the way to overcoming the burden that was being placed on the English language intensive courses for overseas students' colleges. The Greens will support both the amendment and both of the bills. (Quorum formed)