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Friday, 23 November 1979
Page: 2984

Senator Button asked the Minister for Education, upon notice, on 9 October 1 979:

(   1 ) Are awards given for postgraduate study by: (a) individual universities (b) companies (c) endowments; and (d) other non-Commonwealth sources, taxable.

(2)   Why, if any category is not taxable, is it treated differently to commonwealth Postgraduate awards, which are taxable.

Senator Carrick - The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(I)   Section 23(z) of the Income Tax Assessment Act exempts income derived by way of a scholarship, bursary or other educational allowance by a student receiving full-time education at a school, college or university. Specifically excluded from the exemption are amounts received by a recipient student under bond to the person or authority from whom the allowance is received or under the National Employment and Training System (the NEAT Scheme) and the Former Regular Servicemen 's Vocational Training Scheme. Also excluded from the exemption is income derived after 3 1 October 1978 under a Commonwealth Postgraduate Award, ie., under a postgraduate award granted under the Student Assistance Act 1 973.

Exclusion from the section 23(z) exemption means that the living allowance, incidentals allowance and thesis allowance payable under a Commonwealth Postgraduate Award are now assessable income in the hands of an award holder but the travelling allowances and establishment allowance are not. Expenses of self-education incurred in carrying out the terms of the Award qualify for deduction against an Award holder's assessable income except for the first $250 of such expenditure which qualifies as concessional expenditure for concessional rebate purposes. Expenditure for which the travelling allowance and establishment allowance are paid is not an allowable income tax deduction and establishment allowance are paid is not an allowable income tax deduction.

This means that non-bonded awards for full-time postgraduate study granted by individual universities, companies, endowments, and other non-Commonwealth sources would generally be eligible for the section 23(z) exemption. The section 23(z) exemption does not apply, of course, to the remuneration that some employers continue to pay to employees while pursuing a full-time post-graduate course of study.

(2)   The exclusion of postgraduate awards granted under the Student Assistance Act 1 973 resulted from the Government's decision, in 1978, to reduce net outlays on the Postgraduate Awards Scheme by removing the specific exemption from tax of award income. The main effect of that has been to tax non-award income of award holders as the level of the basic award $4,200 is not far above the $3,893 tax threshold. The question of which scholarships, awards et cetera should be included in the section 23(z) exemption and which should be excluded from the exemption was reviewed during the 1979-80 Budget deliberations. The Government decided, however, that there should be no change to the present position.

Member Countries of United Nations Commission on Human Rights (Question No. 2022)

Senator Rocher asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 10 October 1979:

(   1 ) Which countries are members of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

(2)   In which of these countries do human rights, in terms of the practical constitutional freedom of citizens, approach the standards: (a) laid down in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and ( b) enjoyed by the average Australian in Australia.

Senator Carrick - The Foreign Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(   1 ) The current membership of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is:

Australia, Austria, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Federal Republic of Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru," Poland, Portugal, Senegal, Sweden, Syria, Uganda, USSR, United States, Uruguay, Yugoslavia.

(2)   The Government does not have at its disposal information which would enable it to give a detailed answer to the question of a comparison of standards of human rights in other countries with those pertaining in Australia.

States Parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are required by the terms of the Covenant to report to the Human Rights Committee on the measures they have adopted to give effect to the rights recognised in the Covenant. The Committee's own report on its activities is tabled each year in the United Nations General Assembly. It is perhaps noteworthy that experience has shown that the

Committee prefers to see its role as one of the helping States to understand and give effect to their obligations under the Covenant rather than simply to engage in criticism. Australia supports this attitude. Australian representatives in the Commission on Human Rights and elsewhere have also repeatedly stated the view that there is no country in the world which can claim to have a perfect record in the human rights field. While there will, obviously, be situations in some countries which demand particularly urgent attention, it remains our view that there is no room for complacency about the situation in any country.

The following States members of the Commission on Human Rights are also parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:

Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Cyprus, Federal Republic of Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Senegal, Sweden, Syria, USSR, Uruguay, Yugoslavia.

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