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Students sacrificed in Rudd Government's back down on youth allowance.



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Thu, 27th August 2009

Students sacrificed in Rudd Government’s back down on youth allowance

The Hon Warren Truss MP Shadow Minister for Trade, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Leader of The Nationals

The Rudd Labor Government’s back down on Youth Allowance changes will not restore access to higher education for most young people from regional communities, Federal Member for Wide Bay, Warren Truss said today.

After intense opposition from the Liberal and National Parties and students, the Rudd Government has announced that its changes to the Youth Allowance will be delayed until July 2010.

“While this concession will enable some students who are currently in their gap year the opportunity to access Independent Youth Allowance, the Government’s changes will still impact on many students in regional communities who want to go on to higher education. The change will not do anything to help students who have not yet begun their gap year either now or in the future,” Mr Truss said.

“Some current gap year students will benefit from the changes after making their further education decisions in good faith, based on the rules as they applied. Current gap year students who graduated in 2008 did not expect the Government to change the rules mid stream, so the delay is a first step, but problems with Labor’s proposal remain.”

There are an estimated 30,700 students taking a gap year in 2009. Education Minister Julia Gillard’s changes today will allow 5,000 of this group from very remote areas to access Youth Allowance, but more than 25,000 students who live less than 85 minutes away from their campus will not be eligible under Labor’s plan.

Students from farming or rural business families who are still at school may not be able to go on to higher education unless they can find 30 hours per week work for at least eighteen months in a two year period.

“It is unfair that students from regional and remote areas should be denied the opportunity to study because they will not be able to access Youth Allowance unless they work and defer their studies for two years” Mr Truss said

“This is a particularly difficult condition to meet given rising unemployment and the Government’s failure to create any new full time jobs.”

Other entitlements are also cut back under the Government’s announcement.

“The Government had previously announced that from the start of 2011, students would be able to earn $400 a fortnight before their payments would be affected.

Deputy Prime Minister Gillard has now pushed that starting date back to 2012, so the income threshold of $236 per fortnight will continue until then.

“Youth Allowance is vital to provide regional students with the opportunity to study. The Rudd Government can not claim to deliver an education revolution while denying students who live outside of the main metropolitan areas access to higher education.”