Senate hits ‘stalemate’ on youth allowance changes: MP

The Senate appeared to be at a “stalemate” yesterday evening as debate continued over the Government’s changes to Youth Allowance, according to Parkes MP Mark Coulton.

Mr Coulton said the Opposition was against the proposed changes to Youth Allowance which would tighten the eligibility criteria so that students have to work 30 hours a week for 18 months before they qualify for the benefit because it would adversely affect rural students.

“We are only doing this because we have an understanding of the issues facing rural students,” he said.

The bill introduced into Senate by education minister Julia Gillard also included the creation of two new scholarships for university students, which replace ones axed in September.

Mr Coulton said the Coalition was not opposed to the scholarships but could not support the bill because of the allowance changes.

“The Commonwealth scholarship is fine,” he said.

“But when Julia Gillard says I am stopping 800 people in my electorate from getting the allowance, well what they are being offered is not very much.”

Yesterday the Opposition education spokesman Christopher Pyne said the Coalition would attempt to split the legislation so that tertiary scholarships can be awarded.

“We will move to split the government’s bill in the Senate into a scholarships bill and a Youth Allowance reform bill,” he said.

Mr Coulton said the objections of the Opposition to the bill were in line with the wishes of the community.