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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 2583


Senator STEELE-JOHN (Western Australia) (17:22): Here we are on budget night, and the place is alive as, over in other parts of this building, commentators and journalists sort through the entrails of the federal budget and ask themselves questions. Who got the pound of flesh? Who has been heard? Who has been brought in and who has been shut out? I would like to ask some questions that occur to me as a young person and on behalf of a generation that is so rarely heard in this place.

I do wonder whether there will be anything in this budget to address the intergenerational theft that is inaction on climate change, or whether we will continue to see this criminal destruction of an entire generation's future by this government. I also wonder whether there will be any action to address the disgraceful poverty gap that has become the youth allowance in this country. Some in the government have proposed in recent weeks that they could live on Newstart's $40 a day. Well, I would ask them to give youth allowance's $32 a week for a single person a go, and I would refer them to the recent Anglicare research that suggests that if you are a single person living on youth allowance there are a grand total of three rental properties in the entirety of Australia that are affordable and appropriate for you. I would also wonder whether this government will reverse the decision that it made in the 2014 budget to cut the funding for the national youth advocacy body, leaving the young people of Australia without a federally funded youth voice for the first time in 30 years.

We will find out in a few hours the answers to these questions, and I hold in my heart a small grain of hope that we might get some positive ones. But, given this government's track record in this area, I very much doubt that it will take the opportunity to right the wrongs it has perpetrated against this generation in the last six years. I hope that I am wrong, but I and the young people of Australia are not holding our breath. I thank the chamber for its time.