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Cathy McGowan fears budget is hard on young people

Concerns were voiced in parliament last week about the impact the federal budget would youth in regional areas.

MONIQUE FREER May 21, 2014 3:35am

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 six-month 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 $10000 for businesses to hire workers over the age of 50; and strengthening learn or earn rules for young people.’’

Ms McGowan will travel around the electorate in the coming week to host listening posts for community feedback about the budget. Ms McGowan will be in Benalla, outside Mitchell Health Care, Bridge St, from 10.30am to noon on Saturday, May 24.

For more information, or to provide feedback, phone Cathy McGowan’s office on 57217077 or visit www.cathymcgowan.com.au

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