Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Latham trash-talks Australia’s youth

In an astonishing attack on Australia’s young people, Leader of the Opposition, Mark Latham has displayed that he will say anything to win a vote, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said today.

“Mark Latham has rolled out some myths about our youth in an attempt to manufacture a ‘Youth Problem’. He has applied the old stereotypes that young people are ‘dropping out of the system, dropping out of society’, that they are ‘sitting around doing nothing.’

‘Nothing could be further from the truth. Today’s young people are the most successful generation that Australia has ever seen. They are more educated, more engaged in the workforce, healthier and are making a strong contribution to the whole community.

“Mr Latham also tonight resorted to what seems to be typical of his policies – copying them from the Government. Labor’s so called ‘Youth Guarantee’ is nothing more than the Coalition Government’s mutual obligation policy.

“To receive the Youth Allowance payment, young people have to be in education, becoming work ready, or actively looking for work. In fact, young people under 18 years have to be in education or training to receive the payment, unless there are extreme circumstances preventing this.

“The introduction of Youth Allowance was fought tooth and nail by the Labor Party, who at the time believed that these mutual obligation requirements were too harsh for young people.

“It is clear that these policies have worked. There are more young people in education and vocational training than ever before.

“Youth unemployment is currently at its lowest record in decades. Less than one in 20 young Australians are unemployed and looking for work compared to one in 10 under Labor. The number of teenagers looking for work has fallen by 25 per cent since the Coalition came to Government. Under Labor, it was easier to get the dole than it was to get Austudy.

“However, there is no doubt that there are young people who are doing it hard. For them, the Coalition Government spends more than $50 million each year helping young people at risk through programs likes JPET and Reconnect. In the 2004/05 Budget the Government announced an additional $8 million to Reconnect and JPET over the next four years.

“Mr Latham has said Labor will help 5,000 homeless and disadvantaged youth. Under the Coalition Government’s JPET and Reconnect program, the Government helps more than 20,000 young people each year.

“I think Australia’s young people and their families have every right to take great exception to Mark Latham and Labor’s opinion of them. He has entrenched negative stereotypes about young Australian’s for a cheap headline. Our young people deserve better,” Mr Anthony said.