FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has moved to reassure North Queenslanders that an attempt to abolish Abstudy support payments will not make it past scrutiny at a federal level.
Mr Entsch said the narrow passing of the motion to scrap the financial assistance scheme, which took place at the LNP’s state convention in Brisbane at the weekend, came from someone in the Young LNP who had “no understanding of the value of Abstudy”.
“While the intentions were quite noble, this is not the way to go about addressing these concerns,” Mr Entsch said.
“I think it is important not to take this in isolation. We need to also look at the subsequent emergency motion which was put forward – and strongly supported – as a direct consequence of the first motion going through. I think that is more reflective of the real situation.”
Mr Entsch said the motion caught people unawares, coming up late on Sunday as the convention wound down, when many people had already left.
“Clearly the majority didn’t understand the consequences, and it was only narrowly accepted.
“It had not been scrutinised by the state minister or the federal shadow minister, which given the nature of the motion would have been appropriate.
“Had that occurred, in my view it would never have been accepted as a motion.”
Mr Entsch said the convention soon realised the implications and moved quickly to introduce an emergency motion asking the Federal Coalition to investigate the “most effective and equitable mechanism to close the gap in indigenous education” and that was accepted comprehensively.
“Abstudy is highly valued, particularly in remote communities,” Mr Entsch said.
“What this situation allows, if nothing else, is to provide some debate about the issue, and hopefully see some decisions that will give us better outcomes.
“But the original motion in its current form, not having passed any of the rigorous scrutiny required, won’t get past first base. The community has no reason to be concerned.”