Country University Students Left Confused
Posted on Monday, 8 February, 2010
Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey has said with university due to start in the next few weeks, thousands of regional students are unable to make informed decisions on study options because the Education Minister Julia Gillard has completely mishandled the legislative process for her failed reforms of Youth Allowance.
“I have been frustrated by the fact that I cannot give conclusive advice on funding mechanisms because we can’t predict what the government will do,” he said.
“Minister Gillard announced what amounts to a scrapping of Independent Youth Allowance for the regional students in the May budget and then did not even bother to introduce the legislation into Parliament until September. In the end it failed to get approval of both houses before the end of last year.
“Now we’ve been back in parliament for two weeks, university is about to start and the Minister still has not presented a bill to Parliament. As it stands today, the old rules apply, but the Minister is not even discussing with us what she is prepared to do for country students to ensure the passage of her bill and we have no idea what the future holds.
“Despite of the fact that the Coalition supported the bulk of proposed changes to the Youth Allowance, including changes to the parental income thresholds, Minister Gillard refuses to address the Coalition’s concerns with the cuts to the ‘gap year’ for young people who must leave home to attend university.
“The cuts would have meant that some students who in good faith committed a year to earning enough money to qualify for youth allowance, would have not been eligible to receive Independent Youth Allowance having worked that year.
“Families from rural areas face significantly higher costs to send a child to university and effectively scrapping the gap year qualification makes it even harder for families to cope with the extra impost.
“The Coalition is fundamentally opposed to retrospective changes to legislation as it this case it would have punished those young people for trying to do the right thing, particularly those from rural Australia, who were following the rules that were in place at the time, effectively pulling the rug out from under their feet.
“We are now faced with the outrageous situation where there are no Commonwealth relocation allowances and no scholarships for students to apply for, upon acceptance of their university place over the next few weeks.
"For now it means the current arrangements and rules for Youth Allowance remain in place until Ms Gillard accepts she must negotiate with the Coalition. It is clear she has bungled this piece of legislation and we will not back down until she comes up with a better deal for rural and regional students."
Media Contact Leonie Lloyd-Smith (08) 8633 1744
February 9 2010