Right now, young people are getting screwed.
Year after year, successive Labor and Liberal governments have been making life harder foryoung people.
They have managed the economy in the interests of the few, instead of inthe interests of everyone.
And it is getting harder and harder for young people to geta job, as youth unemployment is high, and it has doubled over the general unemploymentrate.
The jobs that young people often do get are very highly insecure and often notwell paid at all.
Study is getting less and less affordable,because university and TAFE are getting more expensive.
The dream of owning your own homeis getting further and further out of reach, with Australian house prices skyrocketingand incomes stagnant.
Yet the government is not doing anything about this.
In fact, ifthe government has its way the problem for young people will get much, much worse.
Ifright now young people are getting screwed, if the government gets its plans through theywill be right royally stuffed.
Let's have a look at the current situation.
Youth unemployment is at nearly 13 per cent.
That is more than double the general nationalrate.
An Anglicare report that was recently released found that only one job is advertisedfor every six low-skilled jobseekers, who are often young people who have not had theopportunity to gain much work experience.
Getting a job can be even harder for peopleliving in a regional area or for people from non-English speaking backgrounds.
Young peoplein Melbourne have told me that if they put 'Mohammed' in their CV and they send off theirjob application, they hear nothing; but when they change their name to 'David', the phonestarts ringing.
And increasingly there are fewer entry leveljobs available for young people, making it harder for young people to get their footin the door, to build their skills and experience, to establish a career, to gain independence,and to plan and progress their lives.
The youth unemployment rate is always higher thanthe general unemployment rate, and in some respects that makes sense; young people are,as a whole, doing other things, whereas older people tend to be more likely to look forwork.
What we also know, as a general historicaltrend, is that every time there is an economic downturn, we strike hard times or there isa recession young people are hardest hit first.
The lines of the youth unemployment rate andthe general unemployment rate diverge when we reach hard times, and it becomes proportionatelyharder for young people to find work.
The youth unemployment rate for them skyrockets.
What we have also found historically over Australia's history is that those two lines,after a year or so, tend to converge again and it becomes easier for young people tofind work.
Since the GFC that has not happened in Australia.
For young people the line hasstayed higher.
Since the GFC it has become harder proportionately than at any other timein history for young people to get back into work.
The entry-level jobs since the GFC aredisappearing.
Those jobs that you might walk into straight out of school or that you mightwalk into if you do not finish school are disappearing.
The jobs that this governmentwants young people to get just are not being created any more in the way that they usedto, and it is a national crisis.
So what is this government's response? Ratherthan listening to expert advice on how to tackle youth unemployment or invest in newindustries that might create those jobs for the future, the Liberals have taken it uponthemselves to be every young Australian's tough parent, serving up some tough love bytelling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and earn or learn.
Their firstplan was to kick young people off Newstart, which is itself so low that it is below thepoverty line and is a barrier to people finding work, because you do not have that money toinvest in yourself—to get some training, to buy the new clothes for the job interview,to even get a haircut.
Their first plan was to kick people off Newstart and make themwait six weeks before they can receive this measly payment to try and support themselves.
Luckily, the Senate took a stand for young people and refused to pass this ridiculousmeasure.
Yet, the Liberals are refusing to listen, saying they only want to make youngpeople wait four weeks before they can get Newstart.
Well, four weeks—the landlorddoes not care that you do not have money coming from the government to pay the rent, the publictransport does not care that you do not have money because it is the government's fault.
But the government's approach is still to say, 'Well, we'll deal with the national youthunemployment crisis by making life tougher for young people.
'At the same time the government wants to make learning more expensive, less accessible andmore exclusive by cutting support for students and deregulating our universities—a movethat experts have warned could see the creation of US-style $100,000 degrees.
So it is harderto earn by getting a job because, under this government and since the GFC, the jobs arenot there in the same way, it is more expensive to try and learn, and even if you are luckyenough to get a job and to keep it and to earn an income, owning your home is becominga pipedream.
In 1990 house prices were approximately sixtimes a young person's income.
In 2013 that had doubled to approximately 12 times a youngperson's income.
It is not the fault of smashed avocados that housing is becoming increasinglyunaffordable for people.
Even if you find a job and even if you find a secure job—whichis pretty tough to do these days—the ratio of your income to house prices is just skyrocketing.
And that has happened under the watch of Liberal and Labor.
The old parties' policies of allowingnegative gearing to happen and the capital gains tax discount to continue turned housinginto an unproductive investment class, and it caused an explosion in house prices, meaningthat overwhelmingly the only people who could afford to buy a house are those who alreadyhave one.
The government should be making it easierfor people to buy their first home not helping people who already have one to buy their second,third or fourth.
The Grattan Institute found that under these and other government policiesreal wealth held by older households from 2003 through to 2012 grew by $215,000, butfor younger households it went backwards.
In 1994 young households had nearly 10 percentof the country's wealth, but by 2014 that had effectively halved to 5.
5 per cent.
Soover 20 years young people went from having 10 per cent of the country's wealth to havingabout five per cent.
At the same time it dramatically increased for older generations.
This is whyyoung people are getting screwed: successive governments have worked against them, dealingthem an increasingly bad hand and growing intergenerational inequality.
Governmentshave allowed the economy to run rampant and to screw young people.
The good news is that as a society we are becoming more and more aware of just how muchyoung people are getting screwed.
Academics, think tanks and civil society organisationsare all pointing out how the odds are no longer in young people's favour and how, under Liberaland Labor, we may be creating a situation where we are leaving the economy and householdbudgets and the planet worse off for generations that come after us rather than better.
Butthe bad news is that the government are refusing to look at the bigger picture and are refusingto listen.
They are being the unreasonable parent instead of listening to their childrenor experts, having blind faith that they know what is best—that is, to make people workfor either nothing or next to nothing.
If it were a lesson on safe sex, this is a governmentthat would be pushing abstinence not condoms.
If it were a lesson on good behaviour, thisis a government that would be sending young people to their rooms rather than talkingthe issue through.
Instead of working systematically to eventhe odds and deliver a better deal for young people, on budget night this year the Liberalsunveiled their master plan for getting young people a job—this Prepare, Trial, Hire scheme.
What it really meant, though, was that earn or learn became burn and churn.
Essentially,this government's plan to tackle high youth unemployment and help young people get a jobis to lure them to work for below the minimum wage.
The Liberals' plan will not providesecure and meaningful work for the hundreds of thousands of young people who are unemployed.
What will do is drive down wages for other workers and see employers burn and churn throughyoung people.
In fact, it could see people currently working in these roles kicked outin favour of free money and labour, courtesy of the government.
Under the program being enabled by this bill,by not having to hire someone at the usual wage employers could bank more per week thanthe young people who are supposedly going to get a job.
In other words, this schemewill allow employers, on the public purse, to take home more money than the young peoplewho are going to be forced to work under it.
The Greens do not accept that to get youngpeople into work they need to be paid as little as $4 an hour, which is well below the minimumwage.
That is what this scheme is about.
Following the government's unveiling of thisflagship program, the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions said 'this internshipprogram is a path to nowhere' and 'gives business access to free, exploitable workers'.
He asked:Why would a business employ a minimum wage or lower paid worker when the government isready to supply them with free labour and a $1000 handout?He pointed out that these internships could include low-skilled work such as work in supermarkets,which is not a plan to create real, lasting jobs.
It is simply substituting existing low-paidlabour with even cheaper, government subsidised labour rather than creating new jobs.
Let us be clear about this: internships, if they are structured correctly, can be a goodthing.
They can provide opportunities for young people to learn and build their skills.
We have had internships for a very long time.
Every political party in this place, I amsure, offers internships.
Community groups offer internships.
Organisations like communitygroups and political parties thrive on getting young people involved, but when we do it—andI speak here on behalf of the Greens—we do not offer out hope to people that thisis some pathway to secure employment; it is about you and increasing your skills.
Youare not here doing government subsidised work where you are required to turn up at a particulartime and clock off at a particular time.
It is not a false job—because that is not whatan internship is or should be.
But when you ask people, as the government is doing underthis program, to clock on and clock off and get the equivalent of $4 an hour while theyhold out hope of a secure job, and you pay employers $1,000 from the public purse toput them on and displace other workers, that is not a scheme to create lasting employment.
The simple fact is this: this is a flawed plan dreamt up in isolation by a governmentthat thinks it knows best, but it will not help people find secure long-term work.
Infact, it could just see handouts to business to force young people to work for below theminimum wage and potentially force people from a job who are currently working in theseroles.
There is nothing in this bill that provides protection for someone currentlyworking in a low-paid job from being forced out of that job by this new scheme so thatgovernment subsidised cheap labour can come in instead.
We have to take action to help make life easier for young people.
That means tackling risingjob insecurity and tackling housing unaffordability, but this program will not do that.
If we wereserious, we would be investing in education.
We would be investing in big job-creatingprojects that will provide secure work for young people—like public transport and cleanenergy.
We would be making it easier for people to get into education and complete it andwe would end the unfair tax breaks that are pushing up the cost of housing and pricingyoung people out of the market.
And we have to do it now because otherwise we run therisk of locking an entire generation out of secure work and locking an entire generationout of owning their own home.