Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has publicly defended her decision to spend more than $31 million worth of Australian tax payer money annually, on a scholarship program which only accepts applications from students who live in African nations. The ‘Australia Award’ has provided more than 4800 African students with scholarships to study at Australian universities, since being introduced by the Gillard Government in 2011. This year alone, has already seen 495 awards given to students from 22 different African nations. Bishop argued that the program is justified due to its ability to “strengthen links between students, academics, researchers and institutions.”
Queensland Senators Pauline Hanson and Fraser Anning have condemned the scholarship program, with Senator Anning describing the ‘Australia Award’ as a “contemptible taxpayer funded” program. Hanson was similarly scathing in her criticism of the program, explaining how she had spoken with farmers who “are going through drought, who would dearly love to see this scholarship for their kids”. As the Australian Government continues to send public funds overseas — a decision which is supported by both the Labor and Liberal parties, whilst many of its own citizens are struggling to make ends meet, the question must be asked: who does the Australian Government represent? The answer certainly doesn’t seem to be the Australian people.