Standing up for Canberra

Budget targets youth

Tuesday night's budget of broken promises did not share the pain evenly as the Treasurer and Prime Minister promised it would. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. It is the poor, the sick, single parents, working families, women and the young who will pay for the coalition's budget of broken promises. Today, I would like to talk about how the young in particular will be affected by this budget.

Yesterday, I received an email from a concerned constituent, who wrote: My son, who has worked from the age of fifteen, before school after school during holidays and every weekend, has just graduated from a double degree with honours. He has been looking for a non-existent job in his field, or another job in any other field. While he is looking for full time work, he has been working in a casual, temporary job, being paid no superannuation entitlements. Now he has been sacked from that job because of the downturn in business in Canberra. My husband and I are retired and will now have to cover his expenses so that he is not homeless on the street. He is desperate and depressed—and I am worried for his personal safety and his mental state.

Why is the Government trying to kill this young person with its harsh and unrealistic measures? It's not their children being put at risk, is it? It is not in their 'backyards'.

The repercussions of denying young people access to Newstart will be enormous. My constituent's son is actually one of the lucky ones. He has parents who can manage to take him in, although it will put further strain on their cost of living. But what of those young Australians who do not have family members or a support network who can take them in? How will they survive for six months without any income? Young people are unlikely to have substantial savings they can rely on during the six-month period. My great fear is that this policy will result in increased homelessness, mental illness and crime. And how is a young person on no income supposed to find a job anyway? We know that poverty is a real barrier to work. How can you apply for a job if you cannot pay your phone bill? How can you go to a job interview if you cannot afford to put petrol in your car or even pay a bus fare?

It is not just the young unemployed who have been targeted by this budget. Another constituent of mine wrote:

I am writing to you for support and as our elected Federal Representative at the request of my son who is an apprentice carpenter, in his third year to date. For him to become an apprentice he has had to commit to a number of financial burdens. His work vehicle, he is currently paying off a $7000 loan for a hilux work ute to transport himself and his required tools of trade. Tools of trade (eg, air compressors, generator, industrial heavy duty trailer, nail guns, ladders, laser levels and much more) Fuel, he is required to travel approximately 1200 kilometres per week from site to site and home Technology, required equipment (calculators, text books etc). His rent (he lives away from home) $250 a week These are just the expenses that are the big ticket ones, there are many more. His wage is the paltry sum of about $14.50 per hour—a pretty standard award for apprentices.

He and all apprentices are HIGHLY dependent on the apprentice tool allowance to assist in the purchase of tools. How the scrapping of this allowance and its replacement with the disgraceful proposal of loans up to $20,000 for them to buy tools can even be considered defies belief. I ask you to consider all apprentices and understand that there is absolutely no way that my son can afford this outrageous impost of more loans if the tool allowance is lost. If apprentices take out this ridiculous loan they are committed to a huge period of debt. We know there will be very little work for them when they finish their apprenticeships as a result of the Liberals' Canberra bashing and the inevitable downturn in the building industry and the local economy. I urge you to fight this proposal tooth and nail in support of vulnerable low income working Australians.

I doubt there are many apprentices who graduate with the ability to pay off a $20,000 debt. I know there are many who cannot. Many apprentices like chefs and hairdressers are training in fields where wages are low, not much higher than minimum wage, and scrapping the tools for trade allowance may deter them from taking on an apprenticeship altogether.

These are just some of the ways this budget of broken promises will hurt the young. They will also be paying more for university, more for health care, more for petrol. When the Prime Minister and Treasurer say this budget shares the pain, they are kidding themselves.

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