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Howard's "education GST free" claim false

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Federal Office:

PO Box 1158, South Melbourne, Victoria, 3205 Ground Floor, 120 Clarendon Street, Southbank, Victoria, 3006 Federal Secretary’: Robert Durbridge Federal President: Sharan Burrow

Australian Education Union Telephone: 61 3 9254 1800 Facsimile: 61 3 9254 1805 Email:

MEDIA RELEASE ^ ΐλΑ£ 19 February. 1999


"Howard’s claim that education will be GST free is patently untrue", said Ms Burrow, Federal President o f the Australian Education Union.

A report by the AEU titled "Increasing the Burden: The GST and Parental Costs in Government Schools" to be released today shows that the GST will increase schooling costs to families by at least $200 a year per secondary student.

The cost could easily exceed $300 a year if students pursue extras such as music, ballet or sports in addition to their school studies. ·

Ms Burrow said, "families, especially those on lower incomes, will be worse o f f ; this was the central message presented by the AEU to the Senate Inquiry into the GST today.

"While there would be savings in some areas under the GST - such as on school stationery and art materials - for the most part costs will rise. Text books, school uniforms, transport, tuckshop, and some excursions will all be dearer. Extras such as ballet classes, music tuition, sports and private tutoring could be substantially dearer."

"The AEU argues that the GST is an unjust and unequitable tax but if it is to be implemented at all then compensation for lower income families must be dramatically increased. Alternately food, books and clothing/school clothing should be GST free. Unless there is some compromise, many families will not be able to cope with the increased cost o f the GST, and we could

see students denied certain aspects o f their education, or withdrawn from school earlier."

Ms Burrow said "the report also highlights the inadequacy o f Government modeling and their resulting cameos. School costs clearly have not been considered or, worse still, Howard and Costello have cynically ignored the impact on families.

"Surprisingly few cameos relate to families with all children attending school: There are no cameos o f sole parents w ith only school aged children and there are no cameos o f any families with a child or children at secondary school, where GST costs are greatest."

"A single income fam ily on $25,000 per year with two children, one o f whom attends school, will lose 49% o f their compensation package on school costs alone."

An affiliate o f the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and Education International (El)


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"A dual income family on $35,000 per year with one child at school, will lose 42% o f their compensation package." .

"The family package which is supposed to help parents with children is totally inadequate and in many cases the school related GST costs alone are 50% more than the family package itself. For instance a dual income family with two children at school will receive $280 per year yet

school costs alone will be $416."

"Independent research such as that from the Smith Family and the Brotherhood o f St. Laurence show that a significant percentage o f families earning up to $40,000 are already struggling to meet school related costs and yet these are the very people who will be worst affected by the GST."

"The GST is further evidence o f the mean-spirited and inequitable approach which has characterised the Howard Government’s attitude to public education and child poverty."

"It is the AEU's opinion that the government's proposed GST tax reform is an insidious attack on families and could jeopardise the quality o f schooling for children. The government must abandon its fixation with passing the current GST package, and instead pursue reasonable compromises which will ease the burden on the neediest in society."

"Until such a compromise occurs, the government can be assured that thinking people in the community will remain firmly and vigorously opposed to this iniquitous and inequitable tax plan" Ms Burrow said.

The AEU report Increasing the Burden - The GST and Parental Costs in Government Schools is available from the AEU Federal Office: tel:[03] 92541800.

For further information contact:

AEU Federal President Sharan Burrow on (w) [03] 9254 1800; (m) 0419 303 849 (h) [03] 9699 3542 or R oy Martin, AEU Federal Research Officer

on (m) 0418 390697