Page 3353 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 18 September 2013

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According to our latest state of the cities report, each international student is estimated to contribute an average of $42,500 per annum to the Australian economy. So we do know that it makes sense to be looking at ways that we can support the growth of the higher education sector of our economy and both universities—certainly the ANU and the UC, which were the universities I travelled with on this delegation—are very keen to do so.

One of the other things I would say, though, in terms of my trip to China is that there is a growing expectation in the Asian century that students in Australia would also avail themselves of the opportunity to be educated in China. Certainly the flow of students at the moment is much greater in terms of Chinese students coming to Australia rather than Australian students going to China. I think that will change over time as Australians and Australian families understand the importance of engaging positively with China and the rest of Asia as they go through their transformative processes.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Gentleman.

MR GENTLEMAN: Minister, how does our sister city relationship with Beijing help us grow our higher education sector in attracting more international students from China and in promoting Canberra as a visitor destination?

MS GALLAGHER: As the Chief Minister with an existing sister city relationship with Beijing, which I am very happy to respect and uphold on behalf of the people of Canberra, I was able during my visit to meet with the mayor of the people’s government of the Beijing municipality. It was an opportunity to discuss using the sister city relationship as vehicle for raising the destination awareness of Canberra as an educational capital amongst students in Beijing. At the meeting we discussed the mutual benefits in extending international education relationships and academic and business exchanges, also strengthening cultural networks between Canberra and Beijing and increasing our bilateral investment.

A documentary being made by our local company Bearcage, The City of Emperors and the Bush Capital, will show that, despite the vastly different sizes of the cities, there are many similarities. Indeed, over lunch with the mayor of Beijing, the issue of air quality was probably the only one where there were not huge similarities in the demand pressures that are being placed on our cities, despite the incredibly different scale of the population.

I think the meeting went very well. I think, overall, the trip went very well. I hope it delivers results for the ACT, certainly in terms of the work that we put in and the unified position that the delegation took at all of the meetings. I am sure it will pay off well for the people of Canberra.


MS LAWDER: My question is to the Minister for Higher Education. Minister, in June this year, organisations such as ACT Shelter were noting:

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