Thursday, 19 October 2023


Schools payroll tax

Schools payroll tax

Matthew BACH (North-Eastern Metropolitan) (18:39): (536) Some very interesting economic ideas have been espoused in Parliament this week. It was good to be here during question time when members of the Greens party were talking about their support, new-found as far as I am aware, for strict price controls – price controls which lead to a collapse in investment, scarcity and poverty, as they are currently doing in Venezuela and so many other countries around the world. But I was also interested to read some of the comments that have recently been made by the Minister for Education regarding taxation. You see, my understanding was that when a government imposes taxation on the producers of goods and services, under normal circumstances what you see is an increase in price of those goods and services. However, that is not Mr Carroll’s understanding about the government’s schools tax. He said in question time yesterday that private school fees are a matter simply for private schools. He denied that increasing taxes by millions and millions of dollars upon independent schools would lead to increasing fees. This flies in the face of the available evidence, which demonstrates that the 60-odd schools on the government’s hit list have very significantly increased their fees, but he said that the two were unrelated and stated:

… private school fees are a matter for private schools.

I would note that this has not always been the view of members of the Labor Party. I recall Mr Beazley many years ago, when he was leader of the federal Labor Party, talking about a schools tax – he called it a schools tax – to be imposed by John Howard’s Liberal government. He was talking about the GST. And I have a copy of the Labor Party’s 1998 election manifesto. He said that:

The Howard Government will increase the cost of education through the introduction of a GST.

His understanding was that if you imposed the GST on educational services, that would ultimately lead to higher education prices. He said education:

… will be more expensive as the GST increases the price of books –

seemingly not understanding that the price of books is simply a matter for those who produce books –

newspapers, computer software, Internet use, clothes, uniforms and public transport.

The GST represents a Government Schools Tax …

Then he went on to say that for the average family the tax will be:

… likely to add $360 per annum to the costs of schooling.

Mr Carroll’s understanding, however, is very different. My view, notwithstanding the interesting educational theories being put forward by the Minister for Education, is that it is highly likely that schools in my electorate, which the independent Parliamentary Budget Office says will soon have to pay the tax, will be substantially worse off and will ultimately have to pass on that very significant additional cost to parents – schools like Luther College, Marcellin and the North-Eastern Montessori School. So the action that I would seek from the minister is a guarantee that he will not impose the government’s crippling schools tax on these schools in my electorate.