INTERNATIONAL and postgraduate students are pressing on in their fight for public transport concession rights in Victoria.
Student representatives from the Concession Card Coalition took to the streets last Monday in a build up to the upcoming September 2 Fair Fares rally, when a second petition will be handed to the Premier John Brumby.
The first petition, which was signed by some 10,000 people in April, had been struck out by Parliament on a technicality.
The rules of parliamentary procedure had prevented the petition’s lodgement.
But in a letter to the lead petitioners on June 29, Mr Brumby said the State Government had no plans to provide fee-paying international students with transport concessions in Victoria.
“Public transport only recovers a proportion of its costs through fares. The majority of the cost of providing public transport to international students is met by the State of Victoria,” Mr Brumby said in the letter.
He said there were no plans to provide postgraduate students with concessions that were not means tested.
“The current policy is intended to target concessions to (postgraduate) students in genuine financial need,” he said in the letter.
Gathering outside Cambridge College on Little Collins St, the student representatives made their point as they held up fair fares placards and giant “concessions cards”.
The Council of Australian Postgraduate Association’s international student officer Sally Huang, said paying full fares made her feel like a second class citizen.
“I pay the exactly same amount of tax just like my Australian colleagues,” Ms Huang said.
“But every time I travel to the city by public transport I have to pay more to get on the tram or bus. (It) reminds me that I am treated differently, like a second class citizen.
“By allowing concession travel to local undergraduate students only, John Brumby sends a message to all international and postgraduate students that we are different,” she said.
Melbourne University’s Graduate Students Association president Paul Coats said international and postgradudate students were no different from local students.
“We firmly believe and assert that all students need concessions,” he said.