Dan Andrews backflips on international students return

With thousands of Victorians stranded interstate and abroad amid border closures, and Victoria’s overseas arrivals capped at a measly 160 a day, the Victorian Government last week hatched the idiotic plan to bring thousands of international students into the state to be housed in student accommodation:

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the premier, Daniel Andrews, said the state was “working closely” with the federal government to bring international students back into Victoria…

Phil Honeywood, the CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, said students and universities were willing to pay.

“We put to the Victorian government a plan for separate quarantine in purpose-built student accommodation,” Honeywood told Guardian Australia…

Honeywood welcomed the Victorian government’s plan to bring students back…

Thankfully, Premier Daniel Andrews yesterday backed down, rejecting any significant return of international students in 2021:

“Tens of thousands of inter­national students coming back here is going to be incredibly challenging, if not impossible, this year,” he said on Monday.

“We want to get it back as fast as we can, but … the government is not spending hours and hours to try and make something I frankly think is not possible, possible.”

His statement came as the Victorian government deals with COVID cases discovered on three special charter flights bringing tennis players and officials to Australia for next month’s Australian Open in Melbourne. More than 120 people, including 72 tennis players, were forced into two weeks’ strict quarantine…

“The prospect of tens of thousands of international students coming here while we’ve still got people struggling to get home, or even if there was every Aussie that wanted to come home had already made it home, there’s a big cap­acity issue here,” he said.

“There are limits to how many people you can safely quarantine when your risk threshold is so high.”

As expected, the lobbyist in chief for the international education industry is livid:

International Education Association chief executive Phil Honeywood slammed the Victorian government for not having a foreign student strategy.

He said other states could benefit from Victoria’s delay in bringing in foreign students…

“The Northern Territory government proved in November that it’s entirely possible to bring students back from overseas safely. Any state that has the political will to follow the NT’s example will gain market share off the other states for the foreseeable future.”

The education lobby are displaying classic moral hazard behaviour, as they have throughout the pandemic.

The industry stands to privatise the financial benefits from international students’ return, while the costs and risks are borne by taxpayers and the general community. It’s a classic heads I win, tails you lose arrangement developed by the industry for the industry.

With virus numbers exploding internationally amid new highly infectious strains, the risk of importing the virus via returned travellers is increasing.

Reflecting this, the number of overseas acquired cases in hotel quarantine has risen sharply:

Given the clear risks involved in quarantining international arrivals, quarantine places must be reserved for returning Australian citizens and permanent residents only. To do otherwise would not only be unfair to the tens-of-thousands of Australians still stranded abroad, but would also greatly increase the risks of importing the virus.

The education industry’s shameless lobbying for international students to return needs to be rejected outright.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. I look forward to Mr Honeywood personally guaranteeing the losses of any business, citizen or government that follows from his greed.

  2. “tens of thousands of inter­national students coming back here is going to be incredibly challenging”

    Seems like a pretty straight forward strawman to me? Of course tens of thousands will be challenging. But that says nothing of 5,000, 9,000?

    lobby asks for a pilot of 500, govt issues press statement saying ‘no we cant possibly do 20k’, then approve 10x the pilot at 5,000 as soon as the feds lift capacity again.

  3. reusachtigeMEMBER

    See this is another example of how Labor governments are bad managers. The Liberal Nationalist governments will get this worked out so that students come back and profits are made again!

  4. The media push last week stank of Phil and his di*khead mate from Scape putting words in the Vic government’s mouth. I don’t think there was ever a real plan from the Vic govt to do what they were suggesting and if there was the tennis clusterfvk has put an end to it.

    Good. No international students back this year.

  5. Christopher Kennett

    At some point with vaccination we are going to have to open up unfettered again. We should just work out how many people want the vaccine – seems to be about 50% based on responses overseas – which means we need to secure about 13 million doses. Do it over Winter 2021 and be ready to reopen to unrestricted travel starting October 2021.

    The alternative is continued lockdown and restrictions for something which, based on the 2020 death data from Sweden, leads to about a 3-4% increase to the usual background death rate.

    If we really care about public health: tax sugar and fossil fuels properly, and ban endocrine disruptors in foods and food packaging, you’ll save and improve many more lives than any vaccine.

    • “At some point with vaccination we are going to have to open up unfettered again.”
      At some point we have to open up again, vaccine or not. Unless the plan is stricter and stricter lockdowns forever.
      Of course no one has a long term plan but will simply stumble along with lockdowns and restrictions for “just a little longer” and we’ll have been here for 10 years.

        • With lockdown we need some more exercise to “flatten the curve” !!! 🙂
          Re the bug, for contract tracing to be most effective, need to do heavy suppression, so that on the odd occasion when the bug does break free from quarantine, we can manage the outbreak as seen in Sydney and Brisbane recently. This is what “living with the virus” look like done properly, as distinct from the US or UK.

    • I agree in the medium term but even with a vaccine I’d like to see restrictions for the rest of 2021 – especially on the borders.

      We have done bettter than 90% of countries in regards Covid. Added to that we don’t really know the long term consequences or mild covid OR the vaccine so why not let other countries be our guinea pigs? No point rushing in to let it rip when we don’t fully know what the implications are.

      It is also helpful as the longer we lock down the longer the population ponzi is impacted.

      • I note in News outlet today that Australian vaccination won’t be completed until October 2021.
        So our winter is still a risk, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania, so we will need to keep the border controls in place until then.
        By October we will know from overseas experience whether vaccination stops the spread or merely stops the vaccinated getting the worst of the effects, and we will hopefully keep the bug heavily suppressed until then.
        Agreed no sense in opening up before then, especially as we have done well so far and need to keep it that way. No room for complacency, only takes one undetected and uncontrolled case and we’re back off to the races again.

  6. truthisfashionable

    I wonder if the ridiculousness of trying to deal with all these prima donna tennis stars and their attitudes to quarantine may have assisted this decision.

    • If so does anyone have the hotel for Novak Djokavic? Macrobusiness should do a whip around and send him a fruit basket!

    • I don’t know how he can possibly sleep at night. What he advocates is terrible for Australia. Imho either (a) a moron, (b) happy to sell out our countries future or (c) a little bit of both.

  7. Just saw a great response to him on twitter – we shouldn’t let them due to covid risks even if Phil agrees to tongue pash every international student pre quarantine. This should actually be a pre condition for any international student corridor … Phil and the relevant Vice Chancellor should french kiss every new arrival. Skin in the game! (not like that Reusa!)

  8. There must still be plenty of foreign students here doing vocational courses for work rights.

    Seems there is still a lot of delivery riders from the subcontinent and South America.

  9. This student nonsense is fast becoming a political poo bomb.
    The worm has turned, just a little. 😁