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Monday, 21 February 2011
Page: 654

Mr CROOK (4:11 PM) —I am bit surprised we are having this debate. This, in my view, has been through this House once before on the back of the member for Forrest, and the vote was won. There was a passionate plea from the Senate. In fact, I thought there was a fire in the Senate on Thursday, as the bells were ringing so often, and the Social Security Amendment (Income Support for Regional Students) Bill 2010 was brought back to this place.

I would like to use this opportunity to clarify a few points that have been made today, mainly in the words of the Manager of Opposition Business in his speech. I was not party to an agreement with the government on this. In fact, I pushed hard for it to be implemented almost immediately. Failing that, I asked for it to be brought forward to 1 July 2011 so it could be thought of in the next budget session. There is a real opportunity for it to go forward there, but that request has fallen on deaf ears as well. July 2011 would not have been perfect, but it would have given a clear indication that this government were serious about regional students. My electorate of O’Connor, a mere 909,000 square kilometres, has lots of regional students and every one of them suffers. I appreciate that they are not inner regional, but the intent of this is critical and the intent or the view of government towards students per se are critical in this discussion.

I think it is a shame that we have got to this point where we are now putting pressure on the Speaker. I think the government should have used the opportunity and realised that this motion would be won in the House as it was last year when the member for Forrest got her motion up. With the great work of Senator Nash in the Senate, I think that the government should have taken the opportunity, bitten the bullet, realised the error of their ways and looked out for those inner regional students in this situation. It is a lost opportunity. It is a shame that there was any inequity in the first place. That to me is the biggest travesty in all of this—how a line on a map can determine whether or not you get youth allowance. It is clearly and blatantly wrong.