A form of student apartheid that disadvantaged Mackay students will come to a close at the start of next year, thanks to the efforts of the Liberal National Coalition, according to Federal Member for Dawson, George Christensen.
As part of a $265million package, students from inner regional areas will be able to access independent youth allowance under exactly the same rules that apply to students from outer regional, remote, and very remote areas, from the start of 2012.
Mackay is ranked as an “inner” regional area and, under the current rules, inner regional students face much tougher criteria than outer regional areas when applying for independent youth allowance.
The move by the government came after intense pressure from the Liberal National Coalition.
“The government should never have changed the rules for inner regional students in the first place,” Mr Christensen said. “It’s a disgrace that it took vigorous and sustained pressure from the Liberal Coalition to force the Labor Government to reverse the inequality.”
The Coalition twice attempted to correct the inequality for regional students earlier this year, only to have those moves defeated by the Labor-Greens government.
“The question remains now as to whether the rule changes will be made retrospective. If they are not, then the Gillard Labor Government will have abandoned 2009-2010 Mackay school leavers and left them hung out to dry.”