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No travel discounts for foreigners

International students in Australia will lose heavy discounts on train and bus fares if a new legislation is passed.

india Updated: May 21, 2006 15:29 IST

International students in Australia will lose heavy discounts on train and bus fares if a new legislation is passed that seeks to overturn a ruling granting cuts in travel expenses to up to 80,000 such students.

Transport Minister John Watkins said on Saturday that his Government would legislate to overturn the Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruling since it disadvantaged local pensioners, schoolchildren, isolated families and disabled, according to the 'Daily Telegraph.'

The concessions would cost NSW (New South Wales) taxpayers at least $11 million a year but many students are also expected to seek compensation for transport costs already paid.

Full fee-paying students have been campaigning vigorously for free or discounted transport even though they sign a declaration that they are fully self-sufficient before entering the country.

The ADT ruled in March that the students should get cheap travel and the Government had breached its anti-discrimination laws by denying them concession passes.

"We spent $800 million in 2004/05 to ensure the disabled, pensioners, veterans, schoolchildren and isolated families have access to some form of transport support.

"It would be a minimum $11 million a year we would have to take from pensioners or the disabled and give to students who are paying tens of thousands of dollars to study at our prestigious universities -- that's just not fair," he said.

The National Liaison Committee for International Students claims denial of transport concessions is discriminatory.

"It has been a long and difficult battle and one which is not over. This is the first positive step towards fairness," national convenor Song Yee Ng was quoted as saying.