I rise as a representative who lives in an area that is classified as an Inner Regional zone of the Australian Standard Geographical Classification–Remoteness Area.
I represent students in the Mackay region who are discriminated against by Labor’s legislation which restricts the independent status of Youth Allowance.
The members opposite have created a situation where students in some regional areas are treated differently from others such as those in Mackay when it comes to Youth Allowance.
They have created a situation where students in different towns in the same region are treated differently when it comes to Youth Allowance.
They have created a situation where students on different sides of the street are treated differently when it comes to Youth Allowance as the Leader of the National Party outlined in the House earlier.
They have effectively created an apartheid policy in relation to Youth Allowance.
A student apartheid.
You either can get access to the Independent rate of Youth Allowance through one set of circumstances or you can jump through a whole heap of other hoops and hurdles as students in Mackay have to do.
And now, today, we have the opportunity to do something about this disgraceful situation.
But now we have the Labor party trying to shut it down, trying to stop the debate, trying to stop the vote just in order to save face.
Those opposite are happy to put politics before students, they are happy to continue to screw students over in order to save face.
What a hard-hearted bunch these people are.
These are real people who are affected by this atrocious situation, this student apartheid that they have created.
Often from families who are struggling with rising costs of living, wanting the best for their children but being unable to fund their university degree.
Well, we could look to the University of Queensland which outlines on its website the costs an average student occurs, and I note that many Mackay students do find their way to Brisbane to study in degrees that aren’t offered locally.
UQ says “a student living in shared accommodation off-campus would pay approximately $14,248 a year for rent, food, and utilities, and approximately AUD$3210 for establishment costs when setting up their accommodation.”
That more than $17,000 in the first year. But wait there’s more.
UQ goes on to mention the “additional living expenses such as public transport, entertainment, telephone costs, textbooks, photocopying and clothing.”
And there’s more.
“Personal access to a computer and the Internet is recommended for all students and, in most programs, is required. For students who wish to purchase a car, costs can vary from AUD$5000 to AUD$25,000 or more and running costs after purchase price are about AUD$90 per week. It is strongly recommended that students use public transport.”
This is a costly exercise for most people.
The bill that the Coalition wants to put before this House helps average families.
It does so by allowing students easier access to a higher rate of Youth Allowance, this being independent Youth Allowance.
On this side of the House we’ve had numerous people contact our electorate offices about this apartheid situation.
Senator Hogg put the view that 'the bill in question does not appropriate money' and 'does not need to do so because any funds required to support the measures in the bill have already been appropriated by the Parliament in the form of a special appropriation of indefinite amount in section 242 of the Social Security Administration Act 1999'. Senator Hogg added that he does 'not intend to take any steps to ensure that the bill does not proceed'; rather, he 'intends to allow proceedings to occur in the usual way and the Senate to come to a decision on the matter'.
Clerk of Senate: Parliament has agreed to a standing or special appropriation under the Social Security Act which has effectively given ‘a perpetual blank cheque for payments to be made. This means that a bill to change entitlements, such as providing wider access to income support, does not need to appropriate any money because the appropriation is already in place’. Any increased appropriation arising from the Bill would negate the aim to maintain a budget neutral position.
Let this bill pass.
Let justice and fairness for Mackay students prevail.