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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 10349

Ms NEAL (8:27 PM) —I rise in the House tonight to speak in support of the Tax Laws Amendment (Education Refund) Bill 2008. The Rudd Labor government is in the process of creating an education revolution in Australia. This bill before the House is another fundamental building block that will underpin that revolution.

I recently spoke in support of the Schools Assistance Bill, another of the government’s education initiatives which came before this House. That bill will provide uniform funding measures for the $28 billion that the Rudd Labor government will allocate to non-government schools in general and recurrent grants across Australia in the next four-year funding period. So I am delighted to be able to speak about another government initiative that strengthens Australia’s education sector and provides much needed financial support to parents putting their children through their years of schooling.

The Tax Laws Amendment (Education Refund) Bill contains measures that introduce an education tax refund, or ETR, for Australian families. To achieve this goal the current bill will amend the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 as well as other pieces of legislation dealing with family assistance, student assistance and other social security measures. The ETR will provide a 50 per cent refundable tax offset for eligible education expenses up to a maximum of $750 for children undertaking primary education studies and $1,500 for children undertaking secondary education studies.

The establishment of refundable tax offsets for educational expenses was a 2008-09 budget measure that fulfilled a 2007 election policy commitment to the people of Australia. The measure will be funded through a $4.4 billion allocation of federal government money over four years. The ETR will offer a framework of valuable financial assistance through a valuable tax offset to all parents with kids studying in schools across the country. It is anticipated that approximately 1.3 million families with approximately 2.7 million students will be eligible for the education tax refund. This is a level of practical support that will go a long way towards defraying the rising expenses of education for a significant number of Australian families. If Australia is to prepare its students for a rapidly changing world, then assistance for parents to meet these expenses is essential.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms S Bird)—Order! It being 8.30 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 34. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.