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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7139

Mr HAYES (Fowler) (19:08): My question is also to the minister. Minister, I know you are very familiar with my electorate. I am very proud of the fact that I represent one of those areas in south-west Sydney which is, according to the ABS, the most culturally diverse electorate in the country. We are very proud that we have diversity in culture and religion and the fact that it works so well out there. It certainly has a very significant contribution to make in the greater Sydney area but also to the nation generally. A great number of the people in my electorate—50 per cent, as a matter of fact—were born overseas, with the vast majority resettled refugees. Regrettably Minister, apart from having that distinction, my electorate is also the second-lowest on the socioeconomic rankings—second only to Lingiari I think—so it means that I represent an area of great need. Like most members—and I know for the member for Blair in particular, because he discusses his street meetings with me—I do get out there on Saturdays and talk to people. Over the last 12 months, I have found a very distinct pattern of people in my electorate who did not know that they were entitled to the education tax refund. I have a high proportion of families but the amount of people that were not aware of what their entitlements were really shocked me.

Having regard to those people who see me at street meetings, I am very fortunate that I have Vietnamese-speaking staff so they can translate for me. One of the constant themes, Minister, was that because many of these people did not have permanent jobs, they were not paying tax. They were on benefits and they did not see that as a consequence they were entitled to the education tax refund, so they were not applying. For me, that was many children who were missing out on what was a very significant Labor initiative in bringing down the education tax refund. I suppose that one of the problems is that whenever I have communicated that through schools and other agencies I have done it in English, but have not gone through the detail of putting in perspective what the education tax refund actually stood for. Could I ask the minister if she could take a little time to explain to the House the difference between the education tax refund and the application of the schoolkids bonus: how it is going to be applied, how it will be received by members of my community, and the impact that she thinks that the schoolkids bonus will have on working families throughout this nation?