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Thursday, 25 September 2008
Page: 1

Mr SWAN (Treasurer) (9:01 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This government is committed to implementing an education revolution.

Education is the engine room of prosperity and helps create a fairer, more productive society.

It is the most effective way we know to build prosperity and spread opportunity.

A key part of the education revolution is helping parents meet the everyday costs of their children’s education.

Helping parents meet the costs of the books and the computers and the software our kids need to get the best start.

That is why the budget included $4.4 billion to create a new education tax refund.

The education tax refund is a refundable tax offset of 50 per cent of eligible education expenses for children undertaking primary and secondary school studies.

About 1.3 million families, with 2.7 million students, will be eligible for the refund.

This Bill will introduce the education tax refund.

Under the plan eligible families will be able to claim 50 per cent of eligible education expenses up to $750 for each child undertaking primary school, to provide a maximum tax offset of $375 per child, per year.

For children undertaking secondary school studies families will be able to claim 50 per cent of their eligible expenses up to $1,500 per child, to give a maximum tax offset of $750 per child, per year.

Eligible expenses for the purposes of the education tax refund are laptops, home computers, printers, paper, education software, school textbooks and associated materials and trade tools. This includes the purchase, lease, hire or hire-purchase costs of these items. In addition, the expenses of establishing and maintaining a home internet connection are also included.

Parents and others entitled to family tax benefit part A and who have children undertaking primary or secondary school studies will be eligible for the education tax refund.

In addition, those who would be eligible for family tax benefit part A in respect of a child but for the fact that they or the child are in receipt of other payments such as youth allowance, disability support pension or Abstudy living allowance are also eligible for the education tax refund.

Students who are living independently from their parents may also be eligible for the education tax refund for their own expenses.

This tax offset will apply to eligible expenses incurred from 1 July 2008. Those eligible for the education tax refund should start keeping their receipts—I cannot stress this enough—to allow them to claim the tax offset in their 2008-9 income tax return from 1 July 2009.

Those not required to lodge an income tax return will be able to access their entitlement to the offset through the Australian Taxation Office by lodging a separate form at the end of the 2008-9 financial year.

The education tax refund legislation will apply to the 2008-09 income tax year.

It will help families invest in their children’s education—at the same time that the government is investing in a better education system.

For Labor, better education is the cornerstone of a decent society.

Education increases productivity and participation, it builds prosperity and it also offers the hope of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

While our predecessors spoke of improving Australia’s education system, we are getting on with the job of real education reform.

Full details of amendments relating to the education tax refund are contained in the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Wood) adjourned.