McGowan: bud­get hard on young

Benalla Ensign - - News - By Monique Freer

Con­cerns were aired in par­lia­ment last week about the im­pact the fed­eral bud­get would have on young peo­ple in re­gional ar­eas.

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Indi Cathy McGowan spoke in par­lia­ment on Thurs­day, ques­tion­ing Trea­surer Joe Hockey about the im­pact the Work For the Dole scheme would have on youth in re­gional Vic­to­ria.

She told the En­sign last week the in­crease of the el­i­gi­bil­ity age for the dole (News­tart) from 22 to 25 years, and the in­tro­duc­tion of a six­month wait­ing pe­riod for those un­der 30, would have neg­a­tive im­pacts across the Indi elec­torate.

From Jan­uary 1 next year, those sub­ject to the new sys­tem will have to wait six months and then work for the dole for an­other six months be­fore ei­ther get­ting a job, or get­ting cut off again for an­other six months.

‘‘New so­cial se­cu­rity poli­cies for young peo­ple will put more pres­sure and stress on young peo­ple who aren’t earn­ing an in­come and have few job or skills-train­ing op­tions,’’ Ms McGowan said.

‘‘Youth un­em­ploy­ment is high and ed­u­ca­tion op­tions are few in Wodonga, Wan­garatta and Be­nalla and small coun­try towns. I am con­cerned that these new wel­fare poli­cies will be dif­fi­cult to im­ple­ment in my elec­torate.’’

Those un­der 25 will be put on the Youth Al­lowance and paid at a lower rate.

Fur­ther­more, the fed­eral bud­get also re­vealed changes that will al­low uni­ver­si­ties to set their own tu­ition fees from 2016.

With a re­gional cam­pus in Shep­par­ton, La Trobe Univer­sity stu­dent union pres­i­dent Rose Steele said this would fur­ther dis­ad­van­tage re­gional stu­dents hit with re­lo­ca­tion costs when at­tend­ing univer­sity.

‘‘The pro­posed changes will push stu­dents who al­ready strug­gle to make ends meet into a life­time of debt,’’ Ms Steele said.

‘‘For many stu­dents these changes will create an ul­ti­ma­tum of whether to study or work.’’

Ms Steele said the pro­posed bud­get changes would ex­ac­er­bate the chal­lenges of young peo­ple in ru­ral and re­gional ar­eas, fur­ther de­creas­ing ac­cess.

‘‘Stu­dents are al­ready fac­ing a decade worth of debt from study­ing at univer­sity,’’ she said.

‘‘The detri­ment of this will be felt by gen­er­a­tions of stu­dents to come, who will find ed­u­ca­tion com­pletely in­ac­ces­si­ble.

‘‘The govern­ment are gam­bling the fu­ture of Aus­tralia without a care for qual­ity or eq­uity.’’

Stu­dents al­ready study­ing will not be af­fected un­til the end of 2020, and one fifth of the ad­di­tional rev­enue will be used to fund schol­ar­ships to those from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds who want to at­tend univer­sity.

At the other end of the spec­trum the pen­sion el­i­gi­bil­ity age was in­creased to 70 by 2035, and will in­crease by six months ev­ery two years in line with in­fla­tion from 2017.

Se­na­tor for Vic­to­ria Brid­get McKen­zie said this was in line with Aus­tralia’s age­ing pop­u­la­tion.

‘‘That is why we are rais­ing the age pen­sion age to 70 — but not for two decades; pro­vid­ing pay­ments up to $10 000 for busi­nesses to hire work­ers over the age of 50; and strength­en­ing learn or earn rules for young peo­ple.’’

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