Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor wrong – youth unemployment 4.1% lower under Howard Government

Mr. Albanese, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training, has been caught out creating figures that are wrong.

Mr. Albanese believes that the Youth Allowance is an unemployment benefit – this is wrong. Youth Allowance is an income support payment to assist young Australians from low-income families while they are studying part time, employed part time or looking for work.

Mr. Albanese claims that 50,000 young Australians have been on unemployment benefits for more than a year – this is wrong. The figure includes 30,000 young people who have been receiving Youth Allowance for periods whilst they were undertaking full time study and periods when they were receiving other payments and brief periods where they received no payment at all.

The balance of Mr Albanese’s 50,000 is made up of 20,000 young people who have been continuously receiving Youth Allowance as a non full-time student for more than a year.

Mr. Albanese claims that 60% of Youth Allowance recipients have been receiving the allowance for between two and five years – this is wrong. Fewer than 6,500 or less than 2% of young Australians have been receiving the Youth Allowance continuously for between two and five years.

Mr. Albanese claims that youth unemployment is rising – this is wrong. Under the Howard Government teenage full-time unemployment has dropped significantly from 11.6% in June 1996 to 7.5% in June 2004.

Mr. Albanese claims that the number of young Australians on welfare is rising – this is wrong. The reality is the number of young Australians receiving unemployment benefits has fallen by 5.2% under the Howard Government.

These figures prove that the Howard Government’s programs for young Australians are working, contrary to Mr Albanese bogus figures and misleading spin.

The Howard Government’s successful programs for young Australians and strong economic management have provided more jobs for young Australians who were left unemployed without assistance under Labor.

The Howard Government will continue to reduce youth unemployment by continuing to deliver successful education, training and employment programs for young Australians.