Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Style over substance? Proof will be in the pudding

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today said he was pleased that the Australian Labor Party is looking to ‘rev up’ their approach to youth policy.

“I would welcome the opportunity to engage in a real debate with the Labor Party about our young people and, in effect, the future of this country. For too long they have neglected youth issues and by their own admission, young people have deserted them in droves.

“However, I do hope that Nicola Roxon’s week in a supermarket is more than just a media stunt. I look forward to seeing the report she develops as a result of her week.

“Young people in my electorate of Richmond and around Australia have raised with me their concerns about education and training, employment opportunities, youth depression and the future of their communities. These were also strong themes at the first meeting of the 2002 National Youth Roundtable.

“Since we were elected, the Coalition Government has listened and acted on youth concerns. We introduced Youth Allowance which has been instrumental in supporting young people to stay in education and training. We also extended Youth Allowance recipients Rent Assistance to assist with the costs of housing.

“The Coalition has delivered a strong economy, higher wages and lower levels of unemployment. This has all been of real benefit to young people.

“Christian Zahra, Michelle O’Byrne and Tania Plibersek will no doubt be impressed with the growth in apprenticeships and training under the Coalition Government.

“Apprenticeships have more the doubled since 1996. More young people than ever before are in training to become carpenters, hairdressers, panel beaters and a range of other jobs. At the end of last year there were 333,000 New Apprentices in training.

“While the focus on youth issues by the Australian Labor Party is welcome, I do hope that Ms Roxon does not fall into the ‘Natasha trap’. Australian youth want and deserve more than just style over substance,” Mr Anthony said.