I rise to speak very briefly in relation to the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Youth Jobs Path: Prepare, Trial, Hire) Bill 2016. The Greens have circulated a second reading amendment in my name and I foreshadow that I will be asking for that amendment to be put before the second reading vote.
The Australian Greens are concerned about the very real implications of this piece of legislation for the welfare of young people caught up in such a scheme and of course on jobs in the industries where these interns will be engaged. Firstly, we are concerned that this is effectively engaging young people as interns in jobs where they do not have proper safeguards on conditions and where they are going to be at high risk of exploitation. Some have gone so far as to say that this is asking people to enter into slave type environments and working conditions. There are no effective safeguards to make sure that young people are protected under this scheme.
We all know that youth unemployment is an increasing issue right across this country, and nowhere is it more dire than in my home state of South Australia, where youth unemployment is rising every quarter. Rather than dealing with the creation of jobs for young people, rather than trying to get more young people into apprenticeships or helping them into effective and real training programs, what we see is this pathetic attempt by the government to say that they have done something on this issue while delivering nothing at all.
What it is really going to do is create a situation where young people will be exploited. They are not necessarily going to be trained. There are no credentials around the types of skills that they will get out of these internships, and there is no guarantee that employers will not just use the churn of these interns to displace other legitimate workers. The fact is, if there is a job that needs to be done, get a young person through the door and give them a job. Pay them properly, with the conditions that would be afforded to any other worker and ensure that you create a real job. Fake jobs are no better than fake news in this country. All we are getting from this government is fake news, fake jobs and fake schemes—spending a bucketload of money for nothing. It is ineffective and it is irresponsible.
Of course, one of the key issues is how much young people in these internships will be paid for the work that they do—$7.60 an hour. Are you kidding me? This is the government’s pathetic attempt to say that they have come up with a plan to help young people and young workers across the country. It is pathetic. I would like to know if the minister is prepared to work for $7.60 an hour. Would she prefer to see young members of her family work for that kind of pay? Of course not. How is a young person meant to cover the cost of living when they are getting paid a pathetic $7.60 an hour? There are no safeguards in this legislation and there is no real pathway to employment or training under this program. It is just smoke and mirrors.
It is timely to be discussing this piece of legislation today, because of course this came up through the government’s last budget. It is budget day today and we know that the budget that is going to be handed down tonight by the Treasurer is going to be a kick in the guts for young people right across this country. It is going to be young Australians who suffer from tonight’s budget, undoubtedly. They are making it harder and harder for young people to get a university education. They are going to force young people to pay back their debt before they have even started earning a decent wage. Young people who are earning $42,000 before tax are going to have to start paying back their university loans. This is going to push an entire new generation of young people into poverty. Educated young people, people who went out of their way to get skilled and educated to try to contribute to society, are going to be kicked in the guts by this government.
The government do not give two hoots about young people, making it harder for them to go to university and harder for them to get an education, doing nothing to deal with the issues in relation to proper apprenticeships in this country and, of course, absolutely zilch to help young people with one of the biggest costs of living, which is housing and accommodation. Where is the government’s backbone to take on the real issues in relation to housing in this country, and that is the tax rorts through capital gains and negative gearing? Unless the government tackle those things, young people in this country are going to continue to not be able to afford their own home or put a roof over their heads. Rents in this country are out of control. All you need to do is talk to any young person about how they are struggling to pay their rent, week in and week out.
Reports have been released that say that some people—in fact, the majority of people—are paying more and more as a percentage of their overall income on rent. We have a problem. If you are paying 50 per cent of your income on your accommodation, it is very hard to cover the rest of your cost of living. We have pushed young people in this country into poverty. The PaTH scheme does nothing but make that worse. It makes young people slaves of the system. That is what the PaTH legislation will do. It is disappointing that this is all the government could come up with.
We will wait for the next onslaught of attack and ridicule of young people right across this country when the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, hands down his budget tonight—a kick in the guts for young people, a kick in the guts for the unemployed and nothing to crack down on the massive living cost rises in relation to accommodation and housing. This government do not have the ticker to take on the real crisis when it comes to housing costs and the rising cost of living, particularly for young people. They can do plenty of things for their mates in the corporate world—tax cuts over here, tax cuts over there, tax cuts for the wealthy, but absolutely zilch will be in this budget for young people. The Turnbull government do not like young Australians. It is as clear as day. They do not give two hoots about them. It started in last year’s budget with this piece of legislation and it is only going to continue tonight when we hear the dribble from the Treasurer at 7.30. I foreshadow the amendment and I look forward to it being voted on.
Chamber Senate on 9/05/2017 Item BILLS – Social Security Legislation Amendment (Youth Jobs Path: Prepare, Trial, Hire) Bill 2016 – Second Reading Speaker :Hanson-Young, Sen Sarah