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Gillard deceives local gap year students.



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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Gillard deceives local gap year students

Today the Rudd Labor Government backed out of a debate in Federal Government about changes to Independent Youth Allowance, detrimental to rural student’s hopes of attending university.

Following meetings on Monday between local gap students and Minister for Education Julia Gillard, Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull and Dr Sharman Stone, Federal Member for Murray, the Coalition put forward a motion in parliament condemning the Rudd Labor Government for;

failing to protect gap year students who relied on the rules to plan for their higher education and now find themselves in limbo, failing to recognise the realities of the employment market in rural and regional Australia; and for its failure to not comprehend the disadvantage that rural students suffer as a

consequence of distance, extra costs and a weak job market .

The Coalition called on the Government to reconsider its reforms with a view to amend the start date for the abolition of the gap year to January 2011, amend the 30 hours per week work criteria and adopt a targeted scholarship program for rural students.

Dr Sharman Stone said the Rudd Labor Government had the chance to step forward and defend their policy, but instead they moved to shut down the debate in Parliament.

“The Rudd Labor Government has shown no consideration for rural students at all.

“It was only 2 days ago that the students from our electorate presented their concerns to the Minister for Education Julia Gillard about the Rudd Government changes which threaten their chance of moving away from home to study,” Dr Stone said.

“The students were pleased the Minister acknowledged their difficulties and promised to work with them on the issue. But she clearly disregarded their concerns today.”

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Dr Stone said she was equally disappointed with Labor Members and Senators from rural electorates such as Bendigo and Ballarat who voted against the motion by shutting down the debate.

“It is particularly disappointing that Steve Gibbons, whose electorate is one of the biggest regional centres in Victoria and who represents Bendigo students, voted against moving this motion.

“What does this say about his support for the youth in his area who have protesting in the streets, writing him letters, conducting rallies , organising petitions and begging him to take a stand and take up their cause. His Government policy will hurt hundreds of his own constituents,” Dr Stone said.

Media enquiries: Jo Shannon 0417 148 110