Thursday, 28 August 2014
Questions without Notice
Madam Speaker, my question is to the Treasurer. Stuart Edwards is a constituent of mine who is a single dad with four young kids. He is studying at university part time while working, and because of the Treasurer's budget he expects to lose more than $3,000 a year from family tax benefit cuts. Why is the Treasurer not only hitting Stuart's family with family tax benefit cuts but also saddling him with a debt sentence for the cost of his degree?
I thank the honourable member for his question. I, firstly, want to express admiration for the individual you referred to and the fact that he is undertaking study and raising his children. That is quite a contribution to make. But it is also, importantly, an investment in his future and it is an investment in his children's future. Of course, if he is studying at university he is being heavily subsidised by taxpayers to the tune of about 60 per cent. About 60 per cent of his fees are being paid for by everyday Australians paying tax.
Ms Collins interjecting—
The second thing I would point out is that whatever fees he is accruing now he is also going to have to repay under a system that the Labor Party introduced. How about that? The Labor Party is now critical of the higher education system loan scheme that they actually introduced, so I say to the honourable member that if he is critical of that scheme, then he should criticise himself.
The third thing I would say to the honourable member is that when money comes from the government it inevitably comes from another taxpayer. And, ultimately, if it comes from another taxpayer, that other taxpayer needs to have a job, as does maybe that man need to have a job as well. The bottom line is—
Opposition members interjecting—
Ms Hall interjecting—
In the circumstances, and I am not familiar with his specific circumstances, there is someone else who is working and paying taxes who is helping him through his degree and helping him in his everyday life. I would say to that man: 'We want to continue to provide that sort of support. We really do'.
Ms Collins interjecting—
But the problem is that the Labor Party left us with $123 billion of deficits and debt rising to $667 billion and that sort of scheme is not sustainable unless we deliver the decisions now that are going to make sure that that sort of support, through education and welfare, is sustainable into the future.