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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6430

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (17:31): I start by congratulating the job that the minister does in what is often a controversial portfolio and always in the spotlight. There is no doubt about that. I do not know if there is a sleepy hollow anywhere in the executive level, but if there is it is certainly not this portfolio.

I am particularly interested in some of the economic aspects of the portfolio, and an area that is very dear to my heart is international education and education services. It is dear to my heart because it is worth around $20 billion in export income to Australia annually; a figure not often understood in the Australian community when they think about our export earnings. It is also very important to my local area. The University of Wollongong has a very big international education services area. We attract students from about 140 countries from around the world to courses at the University of Wollongong, and around 27,000 international students are enrolled at any one time at the university's Australian and international campuses.

I am particularly interested in the Knight review that the government has commissioned and the findings of that review into the student visa regime. I am particularly interested in what the minister can do to update the House on the government's adoption of the recommendations of that report. In particular, which student visa reforms have been implemented as part of the second stage changes? Perhaps if you had the time, Minister, you could explain the streamlined visa processing for bachelors, masters and doctorate courses at participating universities and explain why the decision has been taken to increase the allowable working hours for student visa holders—another important area and why it is important that we continue to reform the visa framework around the international education sector.

In another area, I am also interested in something that has been discussed a lot over the last week and that is the enterprise migration agreements. I have received a lot of inquiries about this in my own electorate office and I would be interested in any observations you can make about how people from my electorate of Throsby in New South Wales can gain access to any of the 8,000 jobs that I understand are going to be created by that project and how they can be assured that Australian workers get first go at those jobs, and particularly workers who might have been displaced from other industries in electorates such as my own.