Coulton’s Catch-up 4th March - Youth Allowance
Once again regional students have been left high and dry. However, this time we do not only have the Labor party to blame. On Monday 21st February, the regional Independent MPs Rob Oakshott and Tony Windsor showed their hand and sided with the Government to stop any debate on the Coalition’s Independent Youth Allowance bill, which sought to immediately reinstate the original and fairer eligibility criteria for students living in `inner regional’ areas.
These Independents who supported Labor represent regional areas directly affected by this issue. Their constituents deserve an explanation as to why their Independent MPs have sold them out for little more than a ‘promise’ of a review in the middle of this year, with any changes considered not occurring until January 2012. Another ‘promise’ from a Government that has proved they cannot be taken on their word.
The Government’s commitment to the Independents to bring forward a review of youth allowance, which will report by July 1 this year, doesn’t address the problem for those `inner regional’ students who left school in 2009, and had a gap year in 2010, and also those who left school in 2010 and are currently on a gap year, as they are now still required to work an average 30 hours a week and defer tertiary study up to two years. Had the Coalition’s bill passed, they’d now be relieved of this unfair criteria.
This Government’s new promise should be weighed against the many broken deals, bungled programs and hopeless mismanagement of youth allowance over the last few years. This Labor Government promised no carbon tax, but now is drafting one; it promised a national take-over of hospitals, but scrapped the idea; it promised a national curriculum to begin in 2011, but it has been delayed until 2013 and the list goes on and on.
Just more delays and more reviews but no outcomes for young rural people.
Last week in Parliament the Coalition tried to amend the Government’s ‘promise’ and moved an amendment in the House of Representatives to the Appropriation Bill (No.3) 2010 – 2011, to call on the Government to apply the same criteria for ‘inner regional’ students as currently applies to other regional zones, from 1 July this year, but was voted down again by Labor and the Independents.
The fact is that Prime Minister Julia Gillard could easily fix this problem today and it needs to be noted that this issue for ‘inner regional’ students was caused by her when she was Education Minister.
The Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Labor Government continue to ignore concerns about the financial and emotional burden its changes to the independent youth allowance criteria is having on `inner regional’ students, their families and communities.
The Nationals have worked hard to make sure regional students have a voice and will continue to work for an outcome which is fair for ‘inner regional’ students.