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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1817


Senator PETER BAUME —My question is directed to the Minister for Education. Following Senator Newman's revelation that an autho-rity under the control of the Minister proposed to pay the tertiary fee for some of its teachers and the Minister's assurance that she was re-examining the matter, I ask: Firstly, what does the Minister now intend to do in relation to the higher education administration charge payable by those teachers who were the subject of the question? Secondly, for which employees in other Commonwealth departments or authorities have similar arrangements been made to pay the tertiary fee on their behalf? Thirdly, since payment of the fee is a fringe benefit, what allowance has been made for payment of fringe benefits tax in respect of the proposed fee payments either in the Minister's portfolio or others? Finally, if the Minister now decides to disallow the benefit, by how much will fringe benefits payments be reduced within the Australian Capital Territory education authority and where do they appear in the Estimates?


Senator RYAN —As Senator Baume acknow-ledged in his question, the decision of an officer within my Department that the higher education administration charge would be paid in certain cases, such as that of technical and further education teachers without teacher qualifications who are undertaking part time teacher education courses as a term and condition of their employment, is being investigated. It is being investigated by officers of my Department, the Department of Finance and other departments. That investigation is not yet complete, but it does go to matters raised by Senator Baume's question other than the matter of the fringe benefits tax. I will make sure that the inquiry also goes to that matter and, when I have a full account of this and am in a position to know what course of action is open to the Government, I will report fully to the Senate.