While Australia's Parliament is studying the imposition of a travel levy on residents who fly overseas, foreign students in New South Wales (NSW) would enjoy up to 35 per cent discount on public transportation.
The holiday season this year is likely to outrage travelers with airport screening getting muddier.
The two unrelated developments that involve travel were both reported on Monday by Australian newspapers.
The report by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade explained the new proposed travel levy to the need to raise funds for Australians who need help while abroad since cost of operating formal diplomatic operations keeps on going up.
Besides the planned travel levy, the committee is also seeking higher passport fees. The travel levy could be lower for Australians who have travel insurance. Committee chairman and Labor MP Nick Champion estimates the proposed levy from $3 to $5 for every airline ticket.
He disclosed that the number of consular cases handled by Australian diplomatic staff increased by 50 per cent in the last five years to about 200,000 yearly. The rise is explained to a growing number of Australian travelers or 20 per cent lacking travel insurance, as well as older and pregnant passengers who could not be fully covered.
Among the consular cases handled by the consular staff are those that involve welfare issues, inquiries for location of missing Australians, assistance for citizens arrested or detained, medical emergencies, deaths, emergency loans for travelers and notarial services.
The higher cost and growing number of consular cases is because of some Australian travelers thinking that when they go offshore, "the rule of law does not apply to them while they are offshore," former Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Richardson was quoted by News.com.au.
Meanwhile, NSW offered discounts of up to 35 per cent on public transportation to boost the state economy. NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell said the students would save more than $800 yearly if they buy the MyMulti 3 pass, $450 on a MyMulti2 pass, $200 on a MyMulti3 90-day pass and $133 on a MyMulti2 90-day pass.
"The travel concessions announced today will increase the attraction of NSW as an ideal location for further education and provide better access to safe and affordable public transportation options for overseas students," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted the premier.
NSW Vice-Chancellors' Committee Chairwoman Caroline McMilleon said the move dovetails with Australia's Asian Century white paper unveiled on Sunday. With the NSW discount, Victoria is the only Australian state that does not have reduced public transport fare for overseas students.
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