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Kenny Report, Sky News, 11 April 2024

Topics: Student housing crisis, Julian Assange.

Chris Kenny: Let’s catch up now with the Shadow Minister for Education, Sarah Henderson, she joins us from the great city of Geelong, on Corio Bay. Good to speak to you Sarah. I want to talk to you first about the intersection between the education sector and the population problem, the immigration problem we have in this country and the housing crisis. There’s a lot of talk about, you know, the universities, of course, wanting as many overseas students as possible. That’s their business – but we don’t have housing and accommodation for all these students. So how do we fix this problem?

Senator Henderson: Well, Chris, good afternoon. Terrific to join you. We know that we have an absolute immigration mess under this government. Labor’s immigration policy is just causing chaos, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney with such an acute housing shortage. And, at the moment, of course, under Labor we’ve seen a doubling of the number of international students in Australia. That is absolutely alarming. There are now 713,000 students here from overseas studying, and about 400,000 of them – because of the numbers coming into this country – are being forced onto the private rental market, and the government has done absolutely nothing to hold the universities to account, to demand better standards, to say `You need to provide more accommodation’. It’s a complete mess, and it’s happening all on Anthony Albanese’s watch, and of course, the Education Minister Jason Clare.

Chris Kenny: So, 713,000 students – now we know a lot of them perhaps have an eye to permanent residency in the long run anyway, but are you saying that the real onus here shouldn’t be about more rental accommodation available in the private sector but the universities having, you know, cheap dormitories and student accommodation on campus?

Senator Henderson: Look, the universities have a really important responsibility. If they are going to sell the golden ticket to Australia for an international education then with that comes responsibility Chris. And frankly, I think the universities particularly the big unis, Melbourne and Sydney, there are 32,000 international students at Sydney University. Last year, Sydney University reaped in $1.4 billion in revenue, and yet they’re providing only a few thousand places for these people, these students, to live. It’s just not good enough. And now of course, we see the government panicking. They’re now smashing international student visas. We are seeing the market crash. It is absolute chaos, and it’s all happening under Anthony Albanese and his absolute incapacity to manage our migration settings.

Chris Kenny: Yeah, the migration situation is a mess at the moment. We’ll keep following that up. I just want to get you on Julian Assange, while you’re there Sarah. Let’s first have a look at Joe Biden – US President Joe Biden has said that he’s considering some sort of an arrangement where the US might drop his charges or its claims against Assange so he could be returned to Australia. Here’s the President:

Reporter: Do you have a response to Australia’s request that you end Julian Assange’s prosecution?
President Biden: I’m considering it.

Chris Kenny: Yeah, he’s considering it. And here is what Anthony Albanese has had to say.

Anthony Albanese: It is time that this was brought to a close. Enough is enough. There is nothing to be served by the ongoing incarceration of Mr Assange and we want Mr Assange to be able to return home.

Chris Kenny: Yeah, I’m no great apologist for Assange, but he has effectively been holed up or in custody for so long, Sarah Henderson – is it time for this sort of a deal to be struck? For him to be brought home to Australia, possibly in custody for a short period, but then released?

Senator Henderson: Well, Chris, I think most Australians have the view that this has gone on for far too long, and that we do need to see an end to the matter. We of course, respect the United States’ legal system. But as I say, I think certainly, Julian Assange, his supporters, and many Australians would welcome an end to this matter.

Chris Kenny: Yeah, so if the federal government can broker some sort of a deal with the US the Coalition is likely to support that?

Senator Henderson: Well, at the end of the day, it’s not a matter for the Coalition or even the Australian Government. It is a matter for the United States. And as I say, I think most Australians would welcome an end to this very sorry saga.

Chris Kenny: I think you’re right. Sarah Henderson, thanks so much for joining us. Sarah Henderson there the Shadow Minister for Education, joining us from Geelong.

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