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Transcript of joint doorstop interview: 17 November 2010: Youth Allowance

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Senator Barnaby Joyce 

Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water  Leader of the Nationals in the Senate  Senator for Queensland 


17 November

Trancript - Youth Allowance Doorstop


Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Education, Senator Fiona Nash Nationals Leader in the Senate, Senator Barnaby Joyce

SENATOR NASH: well today we’ve seen the Labor government, the Greens, and the Independent Nick Xenophon sell out thousands of regional students. They had the opportunity today to provide fairness and equity for regional students across Australia regardless of where they lived. They chose not to do that, they have sailed those students down the river. What we have seen from this Labor government is complete unfairness for those regional students, that some regional students are able to access the Independent Youth Allowance and others aren’t and that is simply unfair. And what we saw today from the government and the Greens and the Independent Nick Xenophon to not even agree to debate this piece of legislation was simply unforgivable and I think the people, the families and students right across regional Australia would be incredibly disappointed and very disturbed that we’ve seen this from the Labor government today.

SENATOR JOYCE: you know it’s interesting the Labor party’s line there was that they’re out of time. They’re not out of time, they’re just out of touch. Every time this new, and I get so nauseated by the word paradigm that comes into play and they have to actually stand up for regional Australia, they just flush regional Australia down the toilet. (Inaudible) ….going to say you’re a second class person to a person in Brisbane, you don’t deserve a tertiary education, you don’t deserve the capacity to go to university. (Inaudible)…we (Labor government) don’t believe that you should get the benefit or the same advantage that they get in Sydney or that they get in Melbourne where they can actually commute to university and commute back to do their preferred course. What do you say to the people of Tamworth? What do you say to the people of Nowra? What do you say to these people in regional Australia that today the Labor party, the Greens and the Independent Nick Xenophon could have done something quite easily to make their lives better. You have this absolutely pathetic excuse and we had to listen to Senator Brown muse about the whales so help me, he was talking about the whales and said that because of the whales and because of other needless acts around at the moment he had to put them (Senator Nash’s Bill) off because he couldn’t have, wait for it, queue jumpers. So while you have the Greens protesting against queue jumpers, it’s on the back of a couple of weeks ago of their don’t ask don’t tell policy on leadership and this is going to be taken (inaudible) in regional Australia as these people are just total and other hypocrites. They are totally and utterly devoid of any capacity to emphasis with the disadvantage that has been caused from this (Labor government’s) legislation. The reality is that during the Coalition government these people did get the benefit of the gap year and the capacity of going to university, now they don’t. And the greatest mechanism to get social advancement for those in regional Australia, that is an education. Some people will go without a car, go without a house, go without clothes to provide an education and it’s obviously a concept that the Labor party doesn’t understand. They go through all the platitudes when it’s time to try and form a government, you have that incredible speech from Gillard about how she’s working for regional Australia (inaudible) …if push comes to shove how she’s actually going to stand up for regional Australia. I’m very disappointed in Senator Xenophon and I’m just furious with the Greens because they are the absolute (inaudible) of hypocrisy. You listen to Senator Hanson-Young’s speech, you would have thought she would have voted for us, everything she said was (inaudible) except when it came to the action of voting she was (inaudible). No Senator Hanson-Young we’re not that naive. We know exactly what you’ve done, you have given the platitudes from your desk but you haven’t delivered the vote to make these people’s lives better.

JOURNALIST - The bill’s still live though?

SENATOR NASH - the bill is still live but what we’ve seen today is the Greens, Labor and the Independent Nick Xenophon show the Australian people that their word means nothing. They have all made platitudes about how important regional Australia is and how important regional Australians are yet today by their actions not

supporting the bill, they have shown that their word means nothing. The government has admitted that simply they don’t want to find the $90 million a year that it would cost to include all those students in inner regional areas to be able to access fairly the Independent Youth Allowance. Now this is a government that can waste $81 million on paying employees to administer an ETS and yet they can’t find the money to make sure that regional students can access education fairly. That is simply unforgivable and unacceptable.

JOURNALIST - so will you try next week to have the bill put again?

SENATOR NASH - we’ll keep trying. The timetable of course we won’t know but we will not take a backward step from making sure that we try to get this fairness for regional students. Every regional student across this country deserves to be treated fairly and equitably. We know that only around 33 per cent of students go on to tertiary education compared with 55 per cent in the cities and through the inquiry that I chaired at the end of last year, it’s because of the cost. It’s because of the financial difficulty and today the Labor government, the Greens and Nick Xenophon just made it even worse and made it harder for them, when they had the opportunity to make it easier for them.

SENATOR JOYCE - it’s interesting the Labor party has gone from a group that would worship Whitlam as a demigod to someone who this year decides he’s obviously not relevant. One of the greatest things Whitlam did was bring in a quality education at a tertiary level. The Labor party today, that’s obviously something that doesn’t pass their poll driven test. It’s not part of something Mr Arbib agrees with, maybe it’s something they don’t understand anymore. They are completely and utterly soulless.

JOURNALIST - these changes that you talk about did pass with Coalition support early in the year, did you not realise, did you not understand the effect of them when you voted for them?

NASH - no we certainly did. What happened earlier in the year is that we had a situation where the legislation came through, there were a number of measures in it that the Coalition supported. Remember that the government at the time wanted to get rid of Independent Youth Allowance for all students. We managed to be able to get some of those regional students to still be able to get Independent Youth Allowance but not all. We had no choice but to support that arrangement at the time so that those measures we did support in the legislation - the Start Up scholarships, the relocation assistance, the threshold increases could go forward. But remember we moved an amendment at the time on precisely this issue because we recognised then at the time that it was not fair for regional students in inner regional areas be left out.