darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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February 10, 2011

The Nationals have pushed the Gillard Government one step closer to a fairer system of student income support with the passing of a Youth Allowance Bill in the Senate.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester has called on the Prime Minister to stop trying to delay essential changes to the Independent Youth Allowance and work with the Coalition to get an equitable system for regional students.

“When Julia Gillard was Education Minister she created a system which discriminated against some students regional areas and we’re trying to fix the mess,” Mr Chester said.

“The Independents in the Senate are supporting our efforts to provide a system where all regional students are treated the same when it comes to assessments for Independent Youth Allowance.

“I urge the Independent MPs in the House of Representatives to also support our efforts when the Bill is returned for further debate.

“It would be a disgrace if the Gillard Labor Government attempts to block the Bill returning to the House of Representatives for debate given the overwhelming need for change.”

Late last year a Notice of Motion seconded by Mr Chester in the House of Representatives was supported by the cross benchers and he is hopeful of securing their support in the future.

“Any Member of Parliament from regional areas should understand the difficulty for students forced to relocate to pursue tertiary education,” Mr Chester said.

“Fixing this discriminatory system is one step forward to providing more equitable support for regional students.”

Nationals Senator from NSW Fiona Nash, who initiated the Bill, has also welcomed today’s vote.

“The current legislation is an example of an out of touch Labor government,” Senator Nash said.

“No student should be denied the right to fair access to education. Denying that right is exactly what Labor is doing now.”

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