Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill 2010; In Committee

12:38 pm

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (Victoria, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Small Business and Fair Competition) Share this | Hansard source

As Senator Mason says, they are. So we do not have a rationale for levying a separate poll tax. The parliamentary secretary and the government have not answered how they will protect this money from being misused. While the parliamentary secretary talks about ideology, I can talk about experience, because the experience I had at the University of Melbourne student union in the early 1990s was of money being directed towards a subsidised cafeteria and then the money coming out of that till being used for political activities. In one particular case, it famously paid for legal representation for a group called the Austudy Five who allegedly stormed parliament and broke the Premier's office window. How on earth was it in students' interests for an amenities and services fee to be directed towards the legal representation of those people? It betrays the emptiness of the claim regarding the importance of services like those for mental health.

But I do have a specific question which I am interested in. It is about the operation of the levy to pay back the deferred component of this fee. In my day it was called HECS. We would have a tax component levied essentially at a flat rate upon your taxable income. If a student accumulates a debt for the student assistance component of this fee, is that levied as a separate tax or is it simply added to what I would call a HECS debt? Is it a single levy put on someone's taxable income? My question is: are there two income levies or is it a single income levy?


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