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Thursday, 15 May 2014
Page: 3907


Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:16): Lives of young people in the country are different from those in the city. For example, in Indi, on average, families earn 20 per cent less; there is poor public transport, mobile phone and internet coverage; access to higher education is limited; and youth unemployment is a high 17.5 per cent. How have these realities for young people aged under 30 living in rural and regional Australia been factored into the design of the changes to Newstart and Youth Allowance eligibility?

Mr HOCKEY (North SydneyThe Treasurer) (14:16): I thank the honourable member for Indi for her question. She is absolutely right, and that has weighed heavily on our deliberations. I would say to the member for Indi that what you have just said proves that the status quo is not working. The legacy environment provided by the previous government is not working, and that is why we have rising unemployment. In your electorate, that is why—as you say—you have very high youth unemployment. That is why we have put in place mechanisms that on a larger scale are going to stimulate job creation; and the starting point is to reduce company tax for 800,000 businesses by 1.5 per cent. That is a big step forward. That will help a lot of small- and medium-sized enterprises in your electorate. Secondly, in relation to unemployment, we are giving businesses $10,000 to employ someone over the age of 50 who has been on Newstart or a Disability Support Pension—

Mr Brendan O'Connor interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Gorton is warned.

Mr HOCKEY: for six months. That is about changing the culture of business. In relation to younger people, we are for the first time extending the concessional loans system that is available to university students to people for diploma courses or sub-bachelor degree courses. That is an important step forward, because it treats everyone the same. We are also giving anyone who undertakes an apprenticeship a $20,000 loan during the course of that apprenticeship to help them stay in that apprenticeship during the course of their work.

The fundamental point is that we need people under the age of 30 to earn or learn. What has not worked to date are the legacy policies of the previous government that saw youth unemployment rise and saw the overarching unemployment levels of Australia rise. We left them an unemployment rate of just over four per cent; we inherited an unemployment rate rising to 6¼ per cent. And all the shrieking from Labor cannot make up for the fact that someone has to fix the mess, and we stand ready to do it.