Press Releases

LABOR ABANDONS UNIVERSITY STUDENTS

Stephanie Ryan - Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Regional students starting university this week have little to celebrate as they remain in limbo over Labor’s proposed Youth Allowance changes, Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.

“Despite the widespread backlash from regional and rural students in Victoria, Jacinta Allan and John Brumby refuse to stand up for country Victoria and force their Federal Labor mates to back down from their unfair Youth Allowance reforms,” Mr Ryan said.

“Federal Parliament remains deadlocked because Labor won’t agree to a Youth Allowance solution that benefits all students, including those in the country.

“Because of Labor’s arrogance, many students starting university this week remain uncertain about the level of government assistance they will receive.”

Mr Ryan said fewer country students attended university than their city counterparts because they simply could not afford it.

“Labor claims it wants to increase higher education participation from all sections of the community but its proposed changes will actively discourage rural and regional students from attending university,” Mr Ryan said.

“Under the Rudd Government’s plan, gap year students will be made to work an average of 30 hours a week for at least 18 months, instead of the current requirement to earn $19,500 within one year.

“This legislation cuts out the ‘gap year’ pathway to Youth Allowance for students, making it harder for young people from rural and regional Victoria to pursue further study.

“John Brumby was warned last year by the Parliamentary Education and Training Committee inquiry that changes to the eligibility criteria would have a ‘disastrous effect’ yet he lamely stood by as his mates in the Rudd Government pushed ahead with their city-centric proposals.

“It is on John Brumby’s head if the number of regional and rural students who take up further education in regional Victoria continues to decline under Labor’s changes,” Mr Ryan said.

YOUTH ALLOWANCE CHANGES MUST BE SCRAPPED

Stephanie Ryan - Saturday, August 29, 2009
The Federal Labor Government’s decision to delay changes to youth allowance until June next year is an admission that the changes are bad for Victorian students and must be scrapped, Member for Gippsland South and Leader of the Nationals Peter Ryan has said.

Pressure from students and the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Wednesday forced Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard to delay the changes to youth allowance, meaning students currently on a gap year would no longer be unfairly disadvantaged.

“It is pleasing that the current crop of gap year students will gain some certainty over their future, however students who will complete year 12 this year or next will still be severely disadvantaged by the changes,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Ryan said the concession was not enough to stem widespread anger over the Minister’s plan to force students to work a minimum of 30 hours a week for 18 months to qualify for assistance.

“The Minister’s partial back down is an admission that her plan would prevent many young people from taking up a place at university,” Mr Ryan said.

“However this announcement does nothing to help students who will complete Year 12 this year or next. These students will still be forced to delay their studies for more than 18 months, with many forced to wait the full two years before the start of the next academic year, if they make it at all.

“It is almost inconceivable that the government plans to take financial assistance away from young people, despite an all-party parliamentary committee finding that it should, in fact, be increasing support.

“The committee found economic difficulties were the main reason why a third of regional students deferred their university offer, and recommended that all students who have to leave home to attend university be eligible for financial assistance.

“It’s time the Rudd Government paid heed to such recommendations – and to young people as well – and dropped these disastrous changes altogether.”

Mr Ryan said it was also about time the Brumby Labor Government got behind Victorian students and asked the Rudd Labor Government to drop its changes to youth allowance.

“The Brumby Government has been a vocal supporter of the Federal Government’s plan to change the eligibility for youth allowance,” Mr Ryan said.

“It must now stand up for its constituency and be honest about the disastrous effects this plan will have on young people across Victoria.”

MINISTER ALLAN IGNORES YOUTH ALLOWANCE CONCERNS

Stephanie Ryan - Friday, August 14, 2009
The Minister for Skills and Workforce Participation has failed to address serious concerns among regional university students about the Rudd Government’s changes to the Youth Allowance, Shadow Minister for Regional and Rural Development and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said today.

During Question Time in State Parliament this week, Mr Ryan cited an all-party Parliamentary Education and Training Committee inquiry that found the proposed changes to the Youth Allowance eligibility criteria would have a ‘disastrous effect’ on young people in rural and regional areas.

“I asked the Minister what representations she had now made to the Federal Government on behalf of Victorian young people in rural and regional areas to avoid this disastrous outcome,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Minister dismissed the legitimate concerns raised in the parliamentary report, despite her own Labor colleagues agreeing that regional university students will be severely disadvantaged.

“There is something wrong when the Minister is pandering to her Federal Labor mates despite overwhelming opposition to Kevin Rudd’s Youth Allowance changes.”

The Education and Training Committee’s report found fewer regional and rural students applied for university courses than their metropolitan counterparts and that economic barriers prevented many regional students attending university.

The report recommended all university students who are forced to relocate should receive government assistance.

Under the proposed changes, VCE students wishing to qualify for Youth Allowance will be forced to work 30 hours a week for at least 18 months, whereas the independent allowance was previously approved for students who earned at least $19,500 in an 18-month period.

“Already many regional students don’t bother applying to university because they can’t afford to, and these Youth Allowance changes will only exacerbate this problem,” Mr Ryan said.

“The Minister is more interested in cosying up to her Labor mates in Canberra than standing up for the many students and their families in regional and rural Victoria who are furious about these Youth Allowance changes.”


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