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Thursday, 6 April 2000
Page: 15475


Mr ANTHONY (Minister for Community Services) (5:16 PM) —I move:

That the requested amendment No. 1 be not made, but in place thereof, the government amendment be made:

(1) Schedule 4, page 123 (before line 6), before item 1, insert:

1A Paragraph 541B(1)(b)

Repeal the paragraph, substitute:

(b) the person:

(i) is undertaking in the particular study period (such as, for example, a semester) for which he or she is enrolled for the course; or

(ii) intends to undertake in the next study period for which he or she intends to enrol for the course;

either:

(iii) in a case to which subsection (1A) does not apply—at least three-quarters of the normal amount of full-time study in respect of the course for that period (see subsections (2) to (4)); or

(iv) in a case to which subsection (1A) applies—at least two-thirds of the normal amount of full-time study in respect of the course for that period (see subsections (2) to (4)); and

1B After subsection 541B(1)

Insert:

When two-thirds study load applies

(1A) This subsection applies for the purposes of subparagraph (1)(b)(iv) if the person cannot undertake the normal amount of full-time study in respect of the course for that period:

(a) because of the usual requirements of the institution in question in respect of the course; or

(b) because of a specific direction in writing to the student from the academic registrar, or an equivalent officer, of the institution in question; or

(c) because the academic registrar, or an equivalent officer, of the institution in question recommends in writing that the person undertake the amount of study mentioned in subparagraph (1)(b)(iv) in respect of the course for specified academic or vocational reasons.

Paragraph (c) applies for no longer than half of the academic year.

The government are not supporting the amendment put forward by the Democrats in the Senate because we are introducing our own amendment. The amendment put forward by the Democrats does not meet their intended objective. It would only exempt a student undertaking two-thirds of full time from the activity test; it would not give them full-time student status. Therefore these students will not be eligible for the student financial supplement loan. They would not be eligible for the income bank or the $230 income-free area and upon reaching 21 would still not qualify for the youth allowance under the maximum age provisions. In addition, exemption from the activity test would mean that penalties that can be applied to unemployed people and full-time students who fail to meet the activity test obligations could not be applied to this group of students. However, the government will be putting forward their own amendments to the Youth Allowance Consolidation Bill 1999. As I have already explained, although the amendment put forward by the Democrats does appear to have merit, it was incorrectly drafted. The government have always intended to revisit youth allowance provisions as part of the youth allowance evaluation. There was always scope to extend the benefits that are available under youth allowance to full-time students to those students undertaking at least two-thirds of their normal study load in certain circumstances. I table the further supplementary memorandum to the bill.