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Helping families to provide more education opportunities for their children



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The Coalition Government Election 2007 Policy

HELPING FAMILIES TO PROVIDE MORE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR CHILDREN

Helping Families to Provide More Education Opportunities for Their Children

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HELPING FAMILIES TO PROVIDE MORE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR CHILDREN

TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY............................................... 2

HELPING FAMILIES TO PROVIDE MORE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR CHILDREN ...................... 4

Education Tax Rebate....................................... 5

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GOVERNMENT’S ACHIEVEMENTS .. 9

LABOR’S RECORD .................................................... 11

COSTINGS SUMMARY ................................................ 13

Helping Families to Provide More Education Opportunities for Their Children

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Coalition believes that Australian children deserve the best possible start in life.

We believe that the values and habits children learn early are the ones they take with them throughout their life.

Parents have the greatest responsibility for choosing how children start and proceed through their early years and schooling.

The Coalition is helping parents to invest in their children’s future by giving them more opportunities and choices in education.

We are doing this through practical measures such as providing financial support for parents, particularly when children are young, through the Baby Bonus, child care places and subsidies and Family Tax Benefit.

We are helping parents by raising the standards of education in our schools, providing increased direct investment in schools and enabling parents to choose the school that best meets the individual needs of their child.

The Coalition understands that enabling parents to choose the best education for their children often requires them to juggle not only their priorities but also the costs associated with educating their children.

A re-elected Coalition Government will help parents to increase education opportunities and invest in their children’s future.

We will introduce a new refundable tax rebate of 40 per cent for education expenses, including school fees, for every student from preschool (kindergarten in some states) until the end of secondary school.

The rebate for secondary school will be up to $800 annually for each student. The rebate for primary and preschool will be up to $400 annually for each child.

It will apply to education expenses, including school fees and voluntary contributions and levies, at government and non-government schools and preschools in the year before children start school.

This new rebate will be available to all Australian parents irrespective of income.

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Importantly, this rebate will also help cover the direct costs of education, such as school text books, uniforms and camps and excursions.

It will also include other education tuition fees, stationery, calculators, laptops and broadband, and the extra costs of elective subjects, like music and drama, and school-based extra-curricula activities.

The rebate will apply for expenses incurred from 1 January 2008, subject to the passage of legislation, so that parents will be able to claim the rebate for the first time in their tax returns from July 2008.

Over 2.1 million families with more than 3.6 million children are expected to benefit from the Coalition’s new refundable tax rebate for education expenses.

It is only through the consistent, strong economic management of the Coalition Government that we are able to invest in the educational aspirations of all families.

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HELPING FAMILIES TO PROVIDE MORE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR CHILDREN

The Coalition believes that Australian children deserve the best possible start in life.

We believe that the lessons children learn early are the ones they take with them throughout their life, whether that be learning to read and write, learning a musical instrument, learning the healthy habits of sport and exercise, or learning to respect and care for others and their community.

Parents have the greatest responsibility for choosing the activities and values that their children will take with them through life.

The Coalition believes in helping parents with those choices through practical initiatives, particularly in a child’s early years, such as the Baby Bonus, Family Tax Benefit (B) to support parents who want to stay at home to raise children, and increasing child care places and subsidies to support parents who want to return to the workforce.

The Coalition believes that giving parents more choice to improve education opportunities for their children is an investment in the future.

Preschool/kindergarten, primary school and secondary school also have an important role in reinforcing those values that parents are seeking for their children.

The Coalition is committed to supporting parents in practical ways to enable them to choose the education activities and school that they believe will give their kids the best possible start in life.

We have been focused over many years on raising the standards of education in our schools.

The Coalition has long been committed to reinforcing core skills in literacy and numeracy in our schools, and we have continued to push the States and Territories to improve education standards in core subjects, as well as restoring Australian history in classrooms around the nation.

We have made sure that parents, students and teachers can accurately measure students’ progress, and that of their schools, against objective benchmarks by introducing national testing.

And we have made sure parents are able to understand what those tests mean by requiring the States and Territories to introduce plain English report cards.

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Since coming to office the Coalition has significantly increased Commonwealth funding for all schools, including more than doubling funding for government schools.

State government schools enrol 67 per cent of students and receive 75 per cent of total public funding, while non-government schools enrol 33 per cent of students and receive 25 per cent of total public funding.

At the same time, funding for non-government schools has never been higher - giving parents more choice in education opportunities for their children.

In the 2007-08 Budget the Coalition Government provided about $10 billion for Australian schools.

This includes significant funding directly invested in schools to help parents and schools install basic infrastructure, like toilets, shaded areas and air-conditioning through the Investing In Our Schools programme.

Overall, we are providing $33 billion for Australian schools over the 2005-2008 funding period.

A re-elected Coalition Government will directly invest at least $42 billion in our schools over the period 2009-2012, a $9 billion increase on the current four-year period.

It is through these practical initiatives that the Coalition is enabling the parents of more than 3.6 million students attending Australian preschools and primary and secondary schools each year to improve opportunities in education.

It will help more than 2.1 million families to help give their children the best possible start in life.

A re-elected Coalition Government will continue to support parents by introducing a new tax rebate to help with the direct costs of education.

Education Tax Rebate

Labor believes that the only education costs that parents face are to buy a laptop and broadband connection.

In contrast, the Coalition understands that parents face a broad range of costs associated with the choices they make about their children’s schooling and education.

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These costs include government and non-government school and preschool fees, uniforms, school bags, text books, stationery and materials, and more.

They can also be incurred when parents and students choose to enrol in extra-curricula school music and sports activities, as well as private tuition for school subjects such as maths, English and languages.

The Coalition knows that these costs can apply regardless of whether children attend government or non-government schools.

Choices around classes, excursions, text books, extra-curricula school activities and tuition are not confined to private schools - and neither are their costs.

Parents of students in government schools are also asked to contribute the equivalent of school fees, through voluntary contributions and various other levies and charges.

For parents with children at government schools it is these other charges which can add up.

The Coalition recognises that not being able to afford these extra charges can impact on the ability of students to participate fully in school activities.

That is why a re-elected Coalition Government will help parents with the direct costs of education, by introducing a new education tax rebate.

This rebate will apply to each child each year from preschool until the end of secondary school.

Importantly, the education tax rebate will include the costs of children attending government, community and private preschools, recognising the importance of helping children get the best start to their education.

The importance of early childhood to later life outcomes is well-recognised and documented. Positive early childhood development experiences, including physical, social and cognitive development, deeply affect children and provide a good foundation for future education achievement.

The Coalition believes that all children should have access to high quality preschool (or kindergarten in some states) in the year before they commence formal schooling. We expect State and Territory Governments to continue to provide pre-school education programmes.

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A rebate of up to $400 will apply per child in preschool and each year of primary school. This will be a refundable tax rebate of 40 per cent for expenses up to a maximum of $1,000.

In recognition of the higher costs of educating older students, a rebate of up to $800 per child will apply at secondary school. This will be a refundable tax rebate of 40 per cent for expenses up to a maximum of $2,000.

The rebate will also be paid for expenses incurred by students undertaking studies at Australian Technical Colleges.

The education tax rebate will cover a range of costs, including:

• government and non-government school fees;

• preschool fees and expenses;

• school uniforms;

• text books, stationery, calculators;

• camps and excursions;

• laptops, broadband and software; and

• extra-curricula school activities, such as sports, music, dance and drama.

The rebate will apply for expenses incurred from 1 January 2008, subject to the passage of legislation, so that parents will be able to claim the rebate for the first time in their tax returns from July 2008.

The rebate will be able to be claimed by parents, guardians or carers responsible for the payment of education expenses for children.

Parents will claim the rebate through their tax returns. For those parents who have little or no taxable income, the full amount of the rebate will be refunded through tax returns. The new rebate will be available to all Australian parents irrespective of income.

The rebate will not cover preschool education or other after-school or holiday programmes which already attract subsidies through the Child Care Benefit and the Child Care Tax Rebate.

The Coalition recognises that some State and Territory Governments provide a limited amount of financial support to parents of school-age children.

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The Coalition and parents around Australia would expect that States and Territories would continue to provide at least current levels of support, under our plan to provide a tax rebate.

The Coalition’s plan for a rebate is also over and above our ongoing and future direct investment in Australian schools, which, if re-elected, will be at least $42 billion between 2009 and 2012.

This rebate is part of the Coalition’s comprehensive plan to provide parents with practical initiatives which enable them to make choices that help their children get the best start to life.

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE GOVERNMENT’S ACHIEVEMENTS

The Coalition Government has a strong record of supporting Australian families to make their own individual choices in regard to their children’s upbringing and education opportunities.

Support for families in a child’s early years

The Coalition’s comprehensive package of assistance for families includes:

• A non-means tested Baby Bonus for each child. The Baby Bonus will increase to $5,000 in July 2008. More than 790,000 Australian families have benefited from the payment in the three years to June 2007.

• Increasing total assistance to families by more than $6 billion in real terms, including Family Tax Benefit (B) to assist families who wish to remain at home to care for their children, and child care benefits and subsidies for those who choose to work. Each eligible Australian family currently receives on average $8,300 in family payments and around $2,000 in Child Care Benefit a year. Some families receive more in Family Tax Benefit than they pay in tax - in 2007-08, a single income family with two children receiving Family Tax Benefit will pay no tax until their income reaches $50,813.

Early Childhood Development

The Coalition has long recognised the importance of early learning and education on a child’s development. That is why the Coalition has:

• Funded the rollout of the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) in 61 communities across Australia to provide families and communities with information about the health and development of local children;

• Provided $70 million for early childhood programmes and resources under our Early Childhood—Invest to Grow programme;

• Invested in early-intervention initiatives to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds through our $142 million Communities for Children programme;

• Provided more than $12 million per year for Indigenous children in preschool education; and

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• Supporting 8,500 playgroups across Australia through an investment of around $10 million a year.

Funding more education opportunities and choice in schools

The facts about schools funding:

• Under a Coalition Government, funding for government schools has risen in every Federal Budget since 1996 with a 70 per cent real increase since then (even though enrolments in government schools have only increased by 1.2 per cent over that time).

• Overall, state schools receive more public funding than Catholic or independent schools.

• There are 2.2 million students attending government schools and they will receive an estimated $24.4 billion in total public funding. There are 1.1 million students attending Catholic and independent schools and they will receive an estimated $8.2 billion in total public funding.

• State schools enrol 67 per cent of students and receive 75 per cent of total public funding, while Catholic and independent schools enrol 33 per cent of students and receive 25 per cent of total public funding.

• In the 2007-08 Budget the Coalition Government has provided about $10 billion for all schools and is providing $33 billion for Australian schools over the 2005-2008 funding period.

The Coalition is investing $2.9 billion between 2005-2008 directly in schools to fund much needed infrastructure, such as air-conditioning and toilets, following the chronic neglect of government schools by State and Territory Labor Governments.

To give parents a better understanding of school performance, the Coalition has, as a condition of funding, required schools to report a range of indicators, including key literacy and numeracy benchmarks.

The Coalition Government is supporting disadvantaged students by providing an estimated $2 billion between the 2005 and 2008.

Rural and isolated families will benefit from an estimated $249 million (from 2007 to 2011), to assist individual rural and isolated students.

The Coalition has restored Australian history, values, civics and citizenship education as a core part of schooling.

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LABOR’S RECORD

Labor’s ‘education revolution’ is just a slogan, not a plan. And its tax rebate for parents to cover a small proportion of the cost of a computer has been described as ‘gesture politics at its most meaningless’.

This ‘revolutionary’ idea does nothing to address the basics of a good education, it does nothing to support families with the real day to day costs of schooling and it does nothing to encourage choice. Even if it does survive Labor’s ‘once we get in, we’ll just change everything’ review of election promises, any money families get will be wiped out by Labor’s plan to increase broadband costs by upwards of $1200 a year.

Rudd’s announcement of the computer rebate was a lazy way to appear modern and interested in education without putting in much effort or, more importantly, taking on his Labor State and Territory mates on issues like the patchy priorities and erratic funding decisions by State and Territory Governments, literacy and numeracy standards or a sensible national approach to curriculum.

It is a policy that is out of touch with the realities of sending a child to school.

Millions of Australian families pay fees to independent schools or make contributions to their local state government schools and yet Labor’s plan ignores these costs. By doing so, Labor is refusing to support a parent’s right to choose which school best suits their child’s needs.

Wearing a uniform instills a sense of pride and belonging in children. Yet again, Labor’s plan ignores these costs. Many children need extra tuition in core subjects like maths and English or take additional classes outside of school to develop their abilities in music, dance, language, sports or a range of other areas. Yet, Labor doesn’t think these things are important.

It also ignores the realities of buying a computer. When could anyone buy a laptop for $375? And even if you could, would you buy one EVERY year? Many Australian families already own home computers, making Labor’s promises in large measure irrelevant and superficial. Labor says it will also cover broadband connection but the proposed rebate will be taken away by higher broadband costs. Labor’s broadband promises will slug Australian families upwards of $100 per month or a mammoth $1200 per year.

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Finally, Labor’s scheme doesn’t even cover all families and all children.

In releasing its policy on education, Labor could have entrenched rising standards. It could have supported parents by recognising that they are best placed to decide what is best for their children. It could have helped with the ongoing costs of education, not one-offs.

But Labor did none of those things - instead it unveiled an empty piece of policy that in classic ALP style ignores the basics and dictates to parents what their priorities should be.

Helping Families to Provide More Education Opportunities for Their Children

Printed and authorised by B Loughnane, Cnr Blackall and Macquarie Streets, Barton ACT 2600

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COSTINGS SUMMARY

HELPING FAMILIES TO PROVIDE MORE EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR CHILDREN

Policy Measure

2007-08 $m 2008-09 $m

2009-10 $m 2010-11 $m

TOTAL $m

Education Tax Rebate

- 2,070 2,108 2,159 6,337