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Thursday, 25 June 1998
Page: 5483

Mr MOSSFIELD (9:46 AM) —The first of July is a crisis day for many working families in my electorate of Greenway. It is on 1 July that many families' standard of living will be significantly reduced due to the introduction of the common youth allowance. I would like to relate the story of just two of these families.

The first relates to a single father, Arthur, and his daughter, Melissa, who sat for her HSC in 1996 and then completed her first year of bachelor of commerce at the University of New England in 1997, but was unable to continue her studies this year due to lack of finance. Melissa is now 19, unemployed and receives unemployment benefits of $170 per fortnight. This young lady's income will drop to $20 per fortnight on 1 July due to the parental income assessment under the Commonwealth youth allowance system. She will then have to rely on her father for board and lodgings. This young lady has further difficulties in that she has a medical problem that currently makes her unemployable. She has applied for a disability support pension but has been assessed as being only 10 per cent incapacitated; therefore she is not entitled to this pension. To be entitled to the pension, Melissa would have to be assessed as being 20 per cent incapacitated and not be able to work for two years. The unreal aspect of this position is that if you are even one per cent incapacitated employers will not employ you.

There is a further difficulty for this family. Arthur, the father, has estimated that his income has dropped by some 15 per cent due to recent enterprise bargaining negotiations. Many families are suffering this double effect of falling income and government reduction of social security.

My second story relates to a mother who rang to advise me of the situation involving her son, who left school in December 1996. Since that time, he has completed a life skills training course at TAFE, worked for two months in the timber industry, worked for seven months as a tyre fitter on $4.50 an hour and had other occasional casual work. This young man is currently unemployed. He turns 18 on 30 June and his mother expected that he would then qualify for unemployment benefits and at least have sufficient money to enjoy a social life. But this young man, who is 18 months out of school, has completed a TAFE course, and has had work but is now unemployed, does not qualify for unemployment benefits.

The government expects this low income family to support this young man. The combined income for this family is approximately $480 a week to support four people. Another son is an apprentice who can only marginally contribute to the family's budget. This situation has already caused tension in the family. The mother is worried that her son could leave home as he has done previously, on one occasion, and could possibly turn to a life of petty crime to obtain sufficient money to live.

These two cases give examples of how this government's policies are hurting low income families. Young adults who are old enough to vote, to go to war, and to get married—many who do—and who are looking for work are clearly independent. (Time expired)