Labor’s youth allowance back flip

Nationals’ Member for Riverina Michael McCormack revealed his disappointment in Labor’s unfair attitude towards regional university students in a speech to Federal Parliament today.

Minister for Tertiary Education Senator Chris Evans has foreshadowed changes to independent youth allowance would finally be made.

The Minister said the Government would “eliminate regional eligibility distinctions for Youth Allowance with effect from 1 January 2012”.

“The Minister should replace the word distinctions with unfairness,” Mr McCormack said.

“It was about time the government did the right thing and moved to treat all regional students the same way.

“However, the Government has hung 2009-2010 inner regional zone school leavers out to dry, as these changes will not apply to them.

“They have been consigned to the government’s current unfair rules.”

Mr McCormack said affected families as well as relentless lobbying by the Coalition had dragged the Labor Government to finally accept the flawed criteria and make the necessary changes.

Students from Adelong, Batlow, Coolamon, Gundagai, Junee, Mangoplah, Tumut and Wagga Wagga will, from 2012, have the same criteria as metropolitan and outer regional students.

The Riverina MP called on Minister Evans to now direct his department to make the guidelines which apply to the 30-hour work rule more fair and reasonable.

These work requirements are not specified in the legislation but it is unfair to deny these students assistance when they have clearly and genuinely sought to meet the criteria, Mr McCormack said.

Cristy Houghton