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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 6016

Mr WINDSOR (6:06 PM) —I congratulate the government on the education funding arrangements that are out there, not because they are part of the stimulus package but because they are very fair. They have treated all schools the same. That is something that governments should look at much more closely. The previous and current governments have the Roads to Recovery program, which is a very fair program. I congratulate the government for the initiative. Obviously, those funding arrangements are very welcome in all of our schools. The point raised in question time today really does need to be followed up. What is the general response of the minister where the states are seen to be taking advantage of some of the federal funding—if, in fact, they are? That is something we really do need to keep an eye on.

The Minister for Education would be familiar with the Youth Allowance issue. I thank her staffer Jim Round for the assistance he has given me and some of my constituents in relation to their parental income circumstances. Minister, the issue that really does need to be addressed—and maybe the government will be forced to address this by way of amendment in the Senate when the legislation eventually gets to the Senate—is the requirement to be employed for 30 hours a week over 18 months to be considered independent. Essentially in many small communities—and the community I come from has only about 1,500 people—30 hours a week is a full-time job. There are no full-time jobs. For those young people to go down that path, they have to leave home to find a job to prove that they are independent of their parents so that they can go to university in two years time.

It really does need revisiting. I encourage the minister to address that issue for those students where it is going to be virtually impossible for them to access that work. The minister will probably say that the parental income test will allow many more students to access some degree of youth allowance—and she is quite correct in saying that—but there is a group of students who will miss out and, by missing out, they will not go to university at all. I do not think that is the general intent of the government.