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New Tertiary Education Minister should prove his commitment to students beyond Labor's city heartland

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15 February 2013

New Tertiary Education Minister should prove his commitment to students beyond Labor’s city heartland

The new Tertiary Education Minister, Mr Chris Bowen MP, must get straight to work on improving educational outcomes for young people who live outside metropolitan areas, according to Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education, Senator Fiona Nash.

“Mr Bowen would do well to avoid the mistakes of his Labor predecessors and take an honest look at why only around 33 per cent of regional students go on to tertiary education compared to 55 per cent in the cities,” Senator Nash said.

“He will find that despite the Coalition’s win in finally having Independent Youth Allowance extended to all regional students, there are still barriers in place by the Gillard Government, such as an unreasonable parental income test.”

“Even those regional students who jump through all the Government’s regulatory hoops are automatically disqualified from the Independent Youth Allowance, if gross combined parental income exceeds $150,000.

“It seems if one parent is a nurse and the other a police officer, you can never be independent under Labor.”

Senator Nash even volunteered to explain to the Minister his responsibilities to regional Australia, saying Senate Estimates had proven the Minister’s new Department was clearly not up to the task.

“I would explain why Youth Allowance needs fixing, I would impress on him the threat posed by the shortage of agricultural and rural health graduates and I would have him meet with members of the Isolated Children’s Parents Association.”

“I would also take him out of the city to visit our great regional universities so he can understand why, with their own special needs, they need their own distinct Government policy.”

“The new Minister has a real opportunity now to change Government policy for the better for regional students and regional universities. I hope he will help ensure this Government finally provides equity and fairness for regional students,” Senator Nash concluded.

Contact: Murray Lees 0417 406 338