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Gillard just doesn't get it on youth allowance changes.

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Gillard just doesn’t get it on youth allowance changes

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Source: Warren Truss MP

Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard has refused to accept the overwhelming evidence provided by her own department that thousands of students are going to be severely disadvantaged by her Budget youth allowance changes.

At least 30,000 students will be hit by the retrospective changes, said the Leader of The Nationals and Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Warren Truss.

“Ms Gillard’s own department admitted that these students would miss out under tough Coalition questioning in Senate Estimates last week, yet the Minister is refusing to review a decision that penalises ‘gap year’ students,” Mr Truss said.

“In an interview on Adelaide ABC radio today, Ms Gillard continues to refer worried students back to her department’s website, and blame the Coalition for allegedly scaremongering.

“This head in the sand approach ignores the fact that students have been looking at the website and are horrified by what they see. The rules have been changed midstream on them and they now face poverty while studying or giving up further education altogether.

“The Nationals have received literally thousands of calls, emails, texts and letters from concerned students, parents and educators. This is a very real issue, and will not be wished away by Rudd Labor.”

Under rules in operation during the Coalition’s time in government, students were allowed to access the Independent Youth Allowance if they worked for at least 15 hours a week over a two year period or earned more than $19,532 in an 18 month period.

But the system was changed in last month’s Budget. Eligibility criteria were toughened and students found that now they will need work at least 30 hours a week for 18 months in a two year period to qualify.

The Coalition will move to amend the retrospective changes made in the Budget to ensure that students currently undertaking a gap year will still be able to receive the Youth Allowance in 2010.