Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Educators Turn on Hinkler MP; Students 'Aspire' for Higher Goal

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Educators Turn on Hinkler MP; Students 'Aspire' for Higher Goal

Article excerpt

Byline: Katie Hall katie.hall@news-mail.com.au

ACTING Education Minister Kate Jones has attacked Hinkler MP Keith Pitt's claim there are students in the region whose aspiration is to go on the dole.

Ms Jones said the claim, made by Mr Pitt on Sky News last week, was part of his response to justify the introduction of the "unpopular" Cashless Debit Card, which will be rolled out in Bundaberg later this month.

She joined a chorus of educators and union representatives who voiced their disappointment in his claim.

"National Party leadership aspirant Keith Pitt should be ashamed of himself for calling local kids lazy welfare kings and queens," Ms Jones said.

"He knows that his cashless welfare card trial is unpopular and that there isn't any evidence that it works - so his solution has been to call local high school students kids lazy and blame them for a problem that does not exist."

Ms Jones's office provided data which showed 84.2 per cent of Bundaberg's 2017 Year 12 graduates were entering either higher education, traineeships or employment. The figure is close to the state average.

However the report also shows the percentage of graduates seeking work was about 13 per cent, well above the state average. Meanwhile the number of graduates not in the labour force, employment or training was above 3 per cent, again above the state average (see story below).

Mr Pitt yesterday stood by his comments, saying he was "relaying things that are said to me in confidence". He said the issue had been raised with him a number of times.

In his Sky interview, Mr Pitt said the Hinkler region was seeing issues with intergenerational welfare dependence.

"For those who are under 30, on Newstart, 90 per cent of those - 90 per cent - have one parent or more on unemployment benefits in the last 15 years, the majority for nine out of 15 years and the worst part of this is for those kids under 30, 57 per cent will still be on welfare in 10 years time," Mr Pitt said. …

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