JENSEN TO THE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

My question is for the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Will the Minister update the House on the achievements of the New Colombo Plan after just one year.

What benefits will continue to flow to Australia and the region because of this programme?

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin—Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:35):  I thank the member for Tangney for his question. I welcome the opportunity to update the House on a signature policy of the Abbott government that we took to the last election, and after 12 months we have already seen the benefits of the New Colombo Plan. This is an investment in our country's future by investing in our young people, in our potential leaders of the future, and by investing in our engagement in the region.

During the pilot phase of this program in 2014, 1,300 young Australian undergraduates from universities across the country had the opportunity to study, live and work in locations in our region—in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Indonesia. Just this week, the Minister for Education and I announced that in 2015, 3,150 young Australians will be given the opportunity to study in universities across our region. In fact, 37 Australian universities have produced recipients of New Colombo Plan grants and scholarships to study in 32 countries in our region.

From India in the west and Mongolia in the north to the Cook Islands in the east and 29 countries in between, young Australians between the ages of 18 and 28 will have a transformational experience. The member for Tangney will be interested that Murdoch University in his own electorate has produced 42 recipients of Student Mobility Grants for short courses or semester-long courses, and they will be undertaking work and study in India, Japan, Singapore and Thailand. A number of Victorian members will be interested to know that over 700 young Victorians are being given a chance in 2015 by the Abbott government to study in universities in our region—in particular 90 students from Deakin University will be studying in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia and Vanuatu. We have 91 students from La Trobe studying in China, India, Malaysia, Samoa, Singapore and Taiwan. From Monash there are 98 students; from RMIT 57 students; Swinburne 66 students; and from the University of Melbourne 138 students.

Members might be interested to know that the top destination for our applicants for Student Mobility Grants and semester-long courses was Indonesia with 600 students. China was second with 550 students, and India third with 300 students. Next week I hope to announce the winners of the scholarships—70 scholarships for up to 12 months. This is all about ensuring our young people have new perspectives, new skills and new insights that add to the productivity and prosperity of this country and our engagement with the region. This government delivers!

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