High fees for schools deterring migrants

September 20, 2007 SMH

THE skills shortage in NSW could be alleviated if the State Government stopped charging temporary residents $5000 for each child they enrolled in a public school, employer groups claim.

Mervyn Bryant, the managing director of Lismore Diesel Service, said that after an Australia-wide search for a tradesman he finally found one in South Africa.

"It's nearly impossible finding a diesel fuel-injection fitter," he said. "We found a tradesman in South Africa…but he is very concerned about the high cost of schooling his three children here." ...

Australia is facing a shortage of about 240,000 skilled workers in trades such as plumbing and motor mechanics. The shortage is acute in the mining boom states of Queensland and Western Australia ...

"NSW school fees for families on a 457 visa are in most cases higher than …private schools … and can force families to live at a lower standard of living than average Australians," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Education Minister, John Della Bosca, said 457 visa holders could apply to have school fees waived.