Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 10 Hansard (Thursday, 20 September 2018) . . Page.. 3872 ..
They may have also still chosen to migrate to Canberra but they would have done so with their eyes wide open to the reality of the situation. Instead, they feel that they were misled by the ACT government.
They petition this Assembly to urge the ACT government to allow them the same opportunity that was given to earlier applicants to be grandfathered into this year’s allotment of visas. This will certainly cut into the 2018-19 migration scheme numbers, but these students feel it would be the just and honest thing. A review would do them no good. Future fixes will be too late for many of them. Canberrans understand that fair treatment for all must include our visitors and students from afar. They deserve so much more than the way that the ACT government has treated them. On behalf of these students and other concerned Canberra residents, I commend this petition with its 508 signatures to the Assembly.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (10.09), by leave: I believe that there are many families in Canberra that have been let down by this government with regard to their hasty decision to change the rules on the 190 visa. Numerous members of the opposition have met with people that moved to Canberra in good faith, following the advice of the ACT Labor government. To have the system change overnight with no warning, with no notice, is absolutely unacceptable. It is unethical; it is wrong. And for this government to claim that they are a socially progressive government, yet to leave hundreds of people in the lurch the way that they have, does themselves and unfortunately this territory a real disservice.
I fear that the decision that the government has made with regard to the 190 visa has done real reputational damage to the ACT. I think we are going to struggle to attract skilled migrants in the future if people are concerned that they cannot move here with certainty because the government could change the rules once again.
There are so many people that have been let down by the government as a result of this decision. I remember chatting with people who had a choice of whether they moved to Tasmania, moved to Canberra or moved to another part of the country, chasing a 190 visa, and they chose to move to the ACT. Some of them packed up businesses interstate; some of them sold homes interstate; some have even moved here and put their kids in Canberra schools. Now they have been told it is all for nothing because the rules changed overnight.
I find it amazing that there seems to be no backlash amongst the Labor Party MLAs about this government decision. How is it that there can be 12 members of the Labor Party and two members of the Greens that are happy for this to happen? All of them have sat back and allowed hundreds of Canberra families to be left in the lurch as a result of their bad decisions and their bad planning.
There are other jurisdictions that had to make a similar decision, but they decided to grandfather in the changes so that people that had made decisions based on the information available to them would not be put at a disadvantage. In particular, the jurisdiction of Tasmania said that anybody who had moved until that date would have their conditions and their circumstances recognised according to the former rules.