One thing this pandemic has done is shine a light on the people living in the shadows of affluent societies — the invisible people we usually don’t think about.
In Australia, the Federal Government has pulled together a stimulus package designed to support businesses and workers survive the lockdown-inspired partial shutdown of the economy, underpinned by ‘we had to draw the line somewhere’ thinking.
Where they drew the line leaves a lot of people in the wilderness.
There are hundreds of thousands of international students and migrant workers in Australia with valid work visas. They make up a significant portion of the casual workers who lost their employment thanks to the lockdown.
But, they’re not Australian citizens, so our government drew the line above them — not even the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who arrived after 26 February 2001 made the cut.
Yes, the Government relaxed the work hours rules for international students. Not really all that helpful when they’ve lost their jobs and the economy is in shutdown — unless they’re medical or nursing students who can join the covid-19 front line. They’ve been given permission to access $10,000 from their superannuation accounts — if they’ve been lucky enough to accumulate that much through their 20 hour a week casual jobs.
Apparently, our Government hasn’t thought about it from than angle.
From my perspective, the Government’s failure to give international students who have lost jobs access to the job seeker allowance during the course of the lockdown risks destroying an education market worth billions. Just think of the immeasurable PR value of supporting those students, and think of the return on investment on the few million dollars it might cost to support a market worth billions of dollars to Australia. Apparently, our Government hasn’t thought about it from than angle.
Migrants in Australia on work visas, who pay taxes, have been told to go home. Of course, with hardly any flights out of Australia to their home countries, that makes a lot of sense. These are the people we’ll be looking for to prop up the economy when this is over. Makes no sense to me to leave…