Abbott's remarks on youth attacked

THE Youth Network of Tasmania has criticised the Prime Minister's ``move for work'' comments as lacking understanding of young people's importance in society.

During a visit to the state on Thursday, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott said if young people had to leave Tasmania to find work, it would not be ``the worst outcome in the world.''

His comments followed tougher welfare conditions for young unemployed people, announced in the federal budget.

In some areas of Tasmania, the youth unemployment rate is as high as 20 per cent.

Youth network chief executive Joanna Siejka said leaving Tasmania was not the best thing for all young people, and was certainly not the best for the state.

Ms Siejka said Mr Abbott's remarks failed to recognise the importance of young people in the community and the fact they needed support.

``In Tasmania we have a very low educational retention rate and a high rate of inter-generational poverty, and this makes the networks and supports that these young people already have, all the more important on the journey to sustainability and success,'' she said.

The youth network released the ``Should I Stay or Should I Go'' report through its Tasmanian Youth Forum late last year.

The report showed that most young people did not want to leave, in part because they recognised the importance of support networks in ensuring success. 

``By asking, or even forcing young people to move interstate, young Tasmanians will have to leave these vital support networks,'' Ms Siejka said.

``There is a very real risk that if things don't go well . . . then young people will be on the downward spiral to poverty and homelessness.''

The state government aims to increase Tasmania's population to 650,000 by 2050.

When asked if Mr Abbott's comments conflicted with this promise, Growth Minister Matthew Groom said the best way to grow the population was to create jobs in Tasmania.

``The Prime Minister supports our job creation strategy,'' he said.

``By transitioning rural and regional high schools to year 12 we will create a job-ready generation.''

Mr Groom said the government was also continuing to invest in programs aimed at getting more young people into work. 

``By providing a pathway to employment we will grow the economy,'' he said.

Email  ctang@examiner.com.au

Prime Minister Tony Abbott

Prime Minister Tony Abbott

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