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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7140

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform) (19:12): I thank the member for Fowler for that question. I do want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work that he does in his community with a wide range of people from different parts of the world. I was very pleased to meet with him and representatives of the Vietnamese community from his electorate recently, where we did discuss these issues about how we make sure that people from different language backgrounds are better informed about their entitlements. I am glad that we had that opportunity.

To go directly to the point that the member raises, we were aware that there were many families and their children missing out on the education tax refund—an initiative that we did put into place to help families with the costs of their children's education. When we looked at the detail we found that around a million families were missing out on their full entitlements. The reasons that were coming back to us were that people were not keeping their receipts, possibly because they were very busy, as all parents are, or because—and I am sure this would apply in the member for Fowler's electorate—parents did not have the money to pay for things up front and then wait to collect the money at tax time. They did not pay tax, and so therefore did not think that they would get any benefit from the measure.

We are very pleased to be making this change with the new schoolkids bonus. As the member would be aware, the legislation is already through the parliament and the first payments will start tomorrow, so this is really the wrap up of the education tax refund. Parents of primary school-aged children will receive $409 per child. For secondary school-aged children they will receive $818 dollars per child. So for families in the electorate of Fowler, this will be a very real benefit for them. They will know that they will get this money, and they will in fact get it in the next fortnight. They will not have to wait until tax time. They will not have to save up their receipts. Most importantly, next year when the full new scheme starts families will start to get the money in the beginning of term 1. I am sure the member for Fowler is aware that families really need the money at that time, rather than waiting until after tax time. They need it at the start of the school year, when children need a new uniform, when their booklists have to be paid for, and for all the other things the children need at the start of the school year. We will pay half of the new schoolkids bonus at the start of term 1, and the other half of the schoolkids bonus will be paid at the start of term 3. We certainly expect that this will have a significant benefit, especially for the sorts of families that the member for Fowler represents.