Primary school visa scam to lock-out locals

By Leith van Onselen

Following-on from my recent articles (here and here) slamming the Turnbull Government’s decision to allow international primary school students and their guardians to access Australian schools and purchase Australian property ahead of achieving permanent residency, the Herald-Sun has reported that local families are likely to be locked-out of good school catchment zones:

REIV chief executive Geoff White said parents were increasingly choosing to shell out for public school-zoned houses rather than pay private school fees. With capital growth strong in the top school catchments, Mr White said this was a smart investment…

While high school zones have typically been the hottest, experts expect changes to foreign student visas to also turn primary school catchments into a “battleground” for parents whose property purchases are driven by education.

The changes allow non-citizen children as young as six to study in Australia from July 1, and simplify the application process for Chinese students and their guardians. Chinese already account for a quarter of Australia’s international students, and the visa changes will widen the pool of applicants.

Secret Agent Property Services founder Paul Osborne said holders of student and guardian visas would be allowed to purchase existing homes under Foreign Investment Review Board regulations, rather than just new or off-the-plan dwellings.

He expects them to mainly target properties near Melbourne’s top-ranked primary schools.

“So the local demographic could face more competition across a wider spectrum of properties than previously, including period homes,” Mr Osborne said.

I said it previously and I will say it again: this is one of the worst policies that I have ever seen.

Primary schools in “good school zones” are already bursting at the seams. Meanwhile, Australia’s biggest cities, which is where most migrants arrive, are already struggling to digest a decade of rampant population growth (immigration), which has clogged their roads, trains, hospitals, schools, emergency services, and reduced residents’ overall amenity.

ScreenHunter_13326 Jun. 03 07.22

And yet the government wants to add more immigrant fuel to the fire, just so that it keeps a floor under Australia’s already ridiculously expensive house values.

Where is the additional federal investment in schools and infrastructure to keep up with the migrant influx? And where is the consideration of impacts on Australia’s existing residents – especially young families struggling to buy a home and put their children through schooling?

Is this what Australia has been reduced to: flogging land, houses and visas to wealthy foreigners? Is this what Malcolm Turnbull really means by his “innovation agenda”? Surely Australia can do better.

If you care about this issue, Vote 1 Sustainable Australia Party in the Senate in the upcoming Federal Election.

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Unconventional Economist
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      • The other thing to do is to try and make sure we can get data on the phenomena once it happens (ie as of next week).

        The next term of government will see us going to an election campaign in 2019. We should start loading the baseball bats for both sides of politics in that election.

      • Absolutely agree with you, Leith.

        “I said it previously and I will say it again: this is one of the worst policies that I have ever seen.”

        This new Liberal Party policy extends selling off Australia’s built heritage to selling off Australia’s human heritage. The Liberals are selling off our homes and selling off our children’s education at preferred schools.

        The next generation of Australians are apparently now in training to be poorly educated serfs to their well educated Chinese home owning rulers.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Yes naturaltrust,
        This disregard for my childrens future just makes my blood boil.

    • Fair call Minning Bogan, although it’s not uncommon for the media to back a particular political party. I’m actually quite tempted to vote for them myself. They (Sustainable Australia) actually seem pretty instep with MB world’s view, which is attractive to me. I just don’t feel I know enough about them or their underlying values. Plus I’m not keen on single issue parties. That said, at least someone is speak out. I hate to agree with Richard, but the Greens seem to have dropped the ball of this issue. They argue that sheer numbers don’t dictate the sustainability of immigration, which is true, but then they fail to take any position on whether what is actually going on in our major cities is actually sustainable (environmentally, socially or economically)! Personally I think what is happening in Melbourne is nuts, and politically dangerous long term (especially if our standard of living continues to be compromised).

      • Yeah that’s precisely the problem. Nothing will destroy Australia’s environment like a population of 50 million. But not a peep can be said because the race card will be played instantly by simps. The media blow-up surrounding brexit (and Trump’s nomination) should really be opening people’s eyes about the way they are being herded and manipulated.

      • Single issue parties?

        Immigration is the everything issue!

        From overcrowded trains to wages going backwards, mass immigration makes life worse!

    • Strange Economics

      Note that one big reason for Brexit was the crowding of schools, hospitals, crowding and unaffordable rent and houses, and wages held down by uncontrolled immigration of 1 million every 3 years from Europe in a population of 65 million. Australiias rate is 168 k per year , proportionally higher. Lots of benefits to large organisations, but lower GDP per person for all.
      School zones need to change to a lottery zone – a lottery within 10 km, its become a boost for RE agents. Then again the govt gets payment for foreign students, and the stamp duty on the purchases.

      • GNP please, not GDP. GDP is a highly misleading number, and only tells you of “economic activity”, not income or who is benefiting. (Just a reminder).

      • definitely hospitals are getting a beating in the Hurstville Kogarah area, none of the 10’s of 1000’s of fake students living in the area have a GP and just wander in through the emergency doors of the hospital when they have a cold

      • SE: your numbers are wrong. Check them and then come back with your ammended red bus.

  1. UE, could you also add hospitals, schools and emergency services every time you mention our congested “roads and trains” ? People have a far too narrow idea of what “infrastructure” is.

    Anyway, the whole thing is beyond disgraceful or scandalous, it is, in the very strongest sense of the term outrageous. Effectively, they have now legalised the selling, for private profit of RE speculators, developers and their banks, Australian public services that have been funded or subsidised by Australian taxpayers for the benefit of Aussie kids, to rich foreigners! A government that encourages this sort of thing is by definition BETRAYING ITS DUTY TO THE NATION ie THE PEOPLE OF THE NATION. It is criminal and traitorous, and yet people think it’s ok. This is selling-out of Australians in action, and the selling out of Australian kids in particular! WHAT SORT OF COUNTRY IS IT THAT SELLS OUT ITS KIDS TO RICH FOREIGNERS AND KLEPTOCRATS FOR PRIVATE PROFITS? HOW MENTALLY F–KED IS THIS COUNRY ?

      • nexus789MEMBER

        With a few exceptions all the politicians are obsessed with the population ponzy and making the place less habitable. You only have to look at all the cheap crummy looking apartment blocks that have sprong up.

    • I just don’t get why people are not more angry, especially Melburnians (sp). None of my friends are worried by the population growth in Melbourne or its affects, and they’ve probably been affected more than most. They just look at me like i’m crazy (or racist) when i bring it up. Plus why is it so incredibly easy for both sides of politics to just ignore this issue? Why are they not being challenged on this by others in the media? How do people not see that the government’s population polices are making existing problems much worse? Are they just not connecting the dots, or have we fallen victim to group think on this issue?

      • More like group greed. I’m ok so long as I can stay a step ahead by selling-out my neighbour. The trouble with that is that the whole country sells out for trinkets like some primitive, but in the end, unless you end up a super rich, you or your kids or grandkids end up losing. It is almost a mathematical certainty.

      • Plenty of my friends are angry. The politicians will do anything to avoid the issue. Inevitably it isn’t about the population it is always about infrastructure and services. I was at 2 auctions on the weekend in Blackburn and Box Hill, interpreters at both.

      • I think because federal ALP MPs live in Canberra and they do not see the overcrowding in MEL/SYD.

        They also do not realise that the immigrants that we get today are from the bottom of the barrel – printing counterfeit degrees!!!

        And yes the left basically say “you are racist unless you let in exam cheats and visa frauds”.

        And when the right says “you are racist unless you let unskilled peasants come here and work for $2/hour” – they are obviously lying as usual.

      • people are angry, but aussies are not violent protestors, aussies are actually quite timid when it comes to this stuff, as a result a lot of my friends have now left Sydney instead of fighting the system, its kinda sad

      • Short term, myopic thinking rules the roost ….
        I live the inner West of Melbourne, a long term resident.
        Thankfully, this phenomenon does not seem to be happening in the inner West.
        I guess the schools are not good/prestigious enough.

      • I live the inner West of Melbourne, a long term resident.

        I guess the schools are not good/prestigious enough.

        If you’re talking high schools – what schools? There’s no public high school between Ballarat Road Footscray and Williamstown.

    • The sort of country where people shut up for fear of being called a racist by the politically correct. ie a cowardly one.

  2. Hunson Abadeer

    UE – I agree that this is a terrible policy, but can we delve into the actual impact a bit more. Assuming these people would have eventually received residency status, doesn’t this policy only bring forward the house purchases and school enrolments by a few years? If that is the case, the total quantum of school enrolments or house purchases doesn’t change, there is just a once-off pig through the python impact when the policy is first introduced

    • It can only work as an economic policy to push up housing prices around schools, by constantly increasing. Effectively an accelerator of the existing problems. To avoid instability, exponential growth is required over the long term. So no, it’s not a pig through the python, its an accelerant. If it works, then it makes things ever harder for locals as more and more rich foreigners snap up properties around schools.

      • To adopt the pig analogy… It IS a pig through a python. Followed by a bigger fucking pig every fucking year.

      • We ate the biggest pig in 2009, and the size of the pig has fallen every year since 2012.

        The whole point of the visa rule change we are discussing here seems to be to re-inflate the pig to the size the python was beginning to become accustomed to. It may or may not achieve that objective/

      • Hunson Abadeer

        I understand the dynamics of acceleration being needed to push up house prices but I don’t understand the relevance of your point sorry St Jacques, I am talking about the effect that this policy will actually have in its current form, not what this policy would need to do to constantly push up house prices. The reality is regardless of how long it would typically take an investor to gain residency, the policy will only have an effect in the first year, during which future applicants are brought forward and added on top of the existing investors. After that, the annual quantum will revert back to being exactly the same. No acceleration. Hence, pig through the python. No?

      • Hunsun, my error. You are correct. It just means the price will be elevated above what it would have been, permanently. I was thinking that if it succeeds it starts with a few at select primary schools, and then grow to a lot of foreigners competing for houses in those zones, so they’re would be a period of acceleration above the current one for a while, in theory. Finally, as it got more and more expensive, it would spread out to other school zones and repeat the process. Then of course the “ripple effect” as wealthy locals are pushed out to the next rung, and those who would have gone there pushed out further and so on, and the process repeating as the rich foreigners themselves moved to outer zones.So you get multiplying number of pigs through pythons affecting an ever greater number of locals. I think that’s what I was really getting at in a confused way. Cheers..

  3. I have friends that reside in Balwyn and refuse to sell (thus harvesting a massive windfall) purely because they are in the high-school zone. They laugh about the tacky “Noodle Box” McMansions and the vacant properties but haven’t connected the dots.

    Their kids are 2 and 4 years old respectively. They claim the free-standing 3 BR house will be too small in coming years unless they add a second storey. I just want to scream at them “TAKE THE STUPID CHINESE MONEY AND RELOCATE”. But alas, the prospect of no school fees at Balwyn High trumps the rationality of a Phd holding housewife contemplating global capital flows and real estate bubbles on the doorstep.

    • I don’t get what you’re trying to say.
      It seems like they bought in the area so their kids could go to that school. Why would they leave before their kids have finished their schooling?

      • That’s not quite the case. I don’t intend getting into a long-winded explanation of their personal circumstances or financial position: They are effectively pricing their kids education in the public system at the potential difference between cashing out in Balwyn Chinese bubble prices and the cost of buying in a non-bubble area.

      • What non-bubble area? Even if you leave Melbourne, you haven’t left the bubble. (But you may have climbed off the pimple that’s on on top of the swelling that’s on top of the mountain.)

      • They are effectively pricing their kids education in the public system at the potential difference between cashing out in Balwyn Chinese bubble prices and the cost of buying in a non-bubble area.

        Only if they believe the bubble differential will cease to exist one way or another before their kids’schooling is complete. They may well think they will still be able to get their hands on some ‘stupid China money’ after their youngest finishes Year 12.

        Besides – Scotch College fees are about $28k, so if they reckon BHS is just as good, staying in the zone is worth about $340k to them.

        I wouldn’t buy into Balwyn for that school, but if I was already there, I’d definitely think twice about going somewhere else if I had children yet to pass through high school.

  4. Am I right in assuming the ALP & Greens have in effect the same policy?
    I wish it had a higher profile in the MSM.

    • It’s been a case of studied silence. Let’s hope they mean to do a wholesale review of the visa system including cancelling such egregiously traitorous visas, plus, as Patrician says, have a full on Royal Commission into the corruption of the visa systems.

    • The Greens are of the belief that this policy will be good for the environment. The Greens are of the belief that rich Chinese have a lower environmental footprint than the Aussies this policy will displace.
      A further benefit is that housing owned by rich Chinese statistically is more likely to be vacant on a given day, than housing owned by Aussies. The Greens believe that empty houses consume less resources and emit less greenhouse gases than houses that are occupied.

  5. sydboy007MEMBER

    I don’t understand why Labor isn’t beating the Liberals with this policy. It should be easy to argue it solely based on an economic basis ie the Feds are stoking the immigration engine but not sharing the increased costs ie schools roads etc.

    Let the liberals use the race card, and Labor can focus on the economics and let the LibNuts sound like racist scare mongers.

    • Labor is basically in the same boat:
      – land inflation good
      – afforadble housing bad
      – use the Ponzi Principle as required
      When Rudd came to power in 2007 his first action was to increase immigration by about 60%. Later he teamed up with Crean to sell off as much of northern Aus to China Inc. as they could. Labor is not interested in an independent Australia.
      Labor have jumped the shark and are just a populist version of the LNP: if it exists sell it.
      The mainstream media are the voice of the corporatist elite and they will continue to hid the real agenda until it is too late for resolution. On the upside, watching politics in spurts is a good way to develop interests in other subjects.

    • I doubt they know how to actively prop up growth any other way. Plus they’re beholden to many of the same interest groups.

  6. I can’t believe this happening so openly without any real protest (MB not withstanding). Why should locals have to compete with foreigners for access to public schools? This is the absolutely worst example of free market privatization that I have seen.

    • Not just schools but I have to compete against visa frauds for a bloody job, space in the train, space on the roads, and land for building a house.

      AUS is so corrupt.

      The ALP should quietly do a deal with the LNP to have taxpayer funded elections.

    • ceteris paribus

      Globalisation and competition- it is a wonderful thing. If you have money, go straight to Toorak and Point Piper. If you don’t have money, get a caravan in the outback. Winners and losers. Economic Darwinism.

    • don’t forget that private schools will continue to get ever more government funding. This is a double edged sword cutting us both ways. Stuff the public system, engorge the private.
      String these fuckers up. This is not policy, it’s dogmashit

    • This issue I see is we are quickly becoming guests in our own homes. We are effectively setting a policy to exclude locals from areas because they won’t be able to compete with the external money and unlimited demand.

    • hahaha! that would look really good on a TShirt to wear on voting day! Mind if i steal it?

      Funny MBers :B

  7. Schools have a strong incentive to enrol international students, because they get to keep most of the fees (e.g. in secondary schools in VIC, international students pay around $15k/annum in tuition fees and schools get to keep 80% of these with the remainder withheld by the department to cover central costs). However, government primary schools also have to enrol all students within their school zone who wish to enrol.
    At present, government schools allow students outside the school zone to enrol at the school, if there is spare capacity at the school after this requirement is met. In future, government schools will prioritise international students to fill excess capacity (so they can get the fees – which they cannot charge local students) and students outside the school zone will find it harder to get a place.
    So you can see how this will put pressure on house prices in school zones of popular schools. Locals may not be able to get into a “good school” unless they live in the school zone.

    • There is no demand for good public primary schools… Even the Chinese only demand good school zones after high school.

      • As an inner Sydney resident I can tell you there is definitely primary school zone angst. it’s not too intense – yet – but definitely there. It’s also the commute matters a lot for primary school kids, so location matters as well as quality.

    • And/or the zones shrink to further limit the number of locals they are required to take, to offset the extra foreign students they’re only too happy to take. Keep paying tax plebs, we need to keep improving our facilities to become more attractive to international students. Whilst I’m at it, a big g’day to Williamstown High School.

  8. I’m not sure where to weigh in on this topic.
    Sure I’m horrified that the our government is selling off direct access to best of Australia’s primary education system for the price of lets say 6 months rental and a few $K worth of fees. The whole point about Chinese accessing the best Primary education is that they offer what in NSW is called OC classes, reality is these OC classes are the best preparation available for the Selective schools exam. IF you get offered a place at any of Sydney’s best selective schools than you’re not restricted to living in the local public school catchment region. Consequently many Chinese parents will very deliberately buy a house (or rent an apartment) in a primary school catchment region with a well regarded OC program.
    Sure these Chinese are gaming the system but in the end IMHO it’s the NSW Education system that’s really gaming Aussie (Sydney) parents. I say this because experience tells me that educational excellence (especially Primary school) can be achieved in brand new schools built on the urban fringe (Cambeltown, Camden, Richmond, Newcastle…wherever) just as easily as it is achieved in our Leafy north shore suburbs. Politically of course it’s the Northern suburbs that get the nod for OC/Select schools, long long before Sydney’s westies even learn to recognize the game. The politicians can then point to all the great public schools without the need to ever recognize that they’re not evenly distributed matter of fact their all somewhat co-located with absolutely none located on this urban fringe where the true Aussie battlers live.

    • You’ve got to be a PR to get into OC. OC begins in Year 5. But there are many great public K-6 schools in the North Shore. Many of them feed into OC and private schools after year 4.

      A permanent resident should have the right to compete to attend any school. What is wrong is the selling of limited places in public schools to foreigners without PR, and providing financial incentives to do so. Also, if Australia is similar to Canada, many of these immigrants will keep all of their earnings overseas and pay almost no Australian taxes – free ride on our infrastructure!

      On the other hand, Asian and many other immigrants contribute significantly to Australia’s overall educational outcomes and these immigrant students will certainly contribute to Australia’s future with their focus on education and strong work ethic. They may be Australia’s best hope for future innovation.

  9. I can see the slogan “Lock the Gate” taking on a whole new meaning during 2016…. it’ll have nothing to do with coal seam gas

  10. I spoke on the phone with Julie Andrews (FederL Labor member for Parramatta) yesterday in relation to the primary school visa scam. She said she wasn’t aware of the implications for their guardians to purchase existing property. She had an assistant call me back to discuss the matter. She said she couldn’t find anything about the issue on the Liberal Party website. I have emailed her links to two MB articles on the issue. Not sure what, if anything, will come of it.

    • blacktwin997MEMBER

      Nice one, thanks Antony. It’s a bit discouraging that even the ALP don’t seem aware of LNP policies or weaknesses they can exploit – unless of course they’re happy to have it happen.

      • That’s what concerns me, they’re happy to have it happen.

        I also spoke to two Greens members handing out flyers on the weekend and asked them about the Green’s stance on the policy. They’d never even heard of it and just suggested I go to their website to find out. Needless to say I didn’t.

    • LachlanMEMBER

      It was in the Financial Review on Friday and is in the Herald Sun today. What more do they want?

  11. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Vote 1 for the Liberals in the coming election as they are doing what is needed to ensure our prosperity by protecting house prices via all sorts of means like education for foreigners combined with protecting company profits.

  12. the Herald-Sun has reported that local families are likely to be locked-out of good school catchment zones

    If you can figure out how to get a Sustainable Population Party spokesperson to comment on all the future articles the Herald Sun runs on this topic, the LNP and ALP’s goose will be cooked. HS readers are going to be pretty peeved at the thought of their kids and grandkids being locked out of schools by chancers from abroad.

  13. the Herald-Sun has reported that local families are likely to be locked-out of good school catchment zones

    If you can figure out how to get a Sustainable Population Party spokesperson to comment on all the future articles the Herald Sun runs on this topic, the LNP and ALP’s goose will be cooked. HS readers are going to be pretty peeved at the thought of their kids and grandkids being locked out of schools by chancers from abroad.

  14. “If you care about this issue, Vote 1 Sustainable Australia Party in the Senate in the upcoming Federal Election.”

    Pity for this.
    With every emotional bit insert into any analysis, the core credentiality of it is lost as it becomes associated with mere hit and miss.
    Much the same as previous Macrobusiness and Turnbullshit disenchantment saga (where emotions blurred clear vision of a FIRE and Goldman Sucks hitman)

    But on a positive note everything else is: Bingo!
    This country is seriously and systematically being run down in every conceivable and inconceivable aspect (this schooling/parenting rort being inconceivable).

    • moderate mouse

      Big deal. People can walk into any suburban pub or club and blow their paycheck on the pokies. I don’t get the moralising on this (actually, yes I do, I just don’t agree with it). The bars and restaurants will be awesome…

      • steven.grellmanMEMBER

        James Packer’s Barangaroo tower is the epitome of corruption in NSW.

        Crown Resorts was given prime harbor side land, earmarked for a public park, without tender, without public consultation, or any form of due process, and yet it was completely uncontested by both sides of politics in the NSW Parliament.

        Legislation was also passed by the NSW Parliament to exempt the proposed Casino from many of the powers of the NSW gambling regulator, and the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

        In addition, an agreement was created between Crown and the government that specifies that NSW taxpayers will compensate Crown Group Companies if certain adverse regulatory events occur during the life of Crown’s licence.

      • We didn’t just start parading around the global market place in come hither “Open for Business” stockings and short skirts, willing to take our chances with whatever sleazy offer the rapacious Asian capital allocation punters offered us.

        No, we placed some very specific advertisements in upmarket publications, offering ourselves as a full service fetish “Open for Business” country, with an understanding and accommodation of special requirements.

        The initial forays are going to hurt, but once they build up a bit of momentum, we’ll barely feel a thing. The important thing is to relax.

        It’s called putting the Client first, and that’s how you build a successful business.

  15. SchillersMEMBER

    As a general rule, Government state schools, both primary and secondary are not allowed to enrol foreign students. Zoning restrictions only apply to permanent residents. The vast bulk of overseas students are going to private schools.

    • That get massive public subsidies because they’re supposed to help support the public system by taking some the burden in the hopes of taking up some of the public burden. This undermines that purpose by pricing locals out of the area.

  16. I am waiting for the inevitable headline in 12 months time of some social engineer decrying once again that “White Australians” are not integrating with multicultural Australia and making their kids go to all Anglo schools.

  17. proofreadersMEMBER

    Under Australian law, what is the penalty for treason? Please also CC Turnbull with the answer.