Student debt death tax on again, off again

The Abbott Government’s higher education shambles has plunged to new depths of confusion and dysfunction with the Treasurer and Education Minister lining up to contradict the Prime Minister on proposals to collect death taxes on HECS debts.   

“This is a fiasco,” Senator Carr said. “This is a Government that is making it up as it is going along, and clearly has no idea of the implications of what they’re advocating.

“We’ve got Christopher Pyne and Joe Hockey saying one thing, and Tony Abbott saying the complete opposite.

“What a shambles. Australians would be right to be confused and concerned that this government has an Education Minister who can’t run his portfolio, a Treasurer who doesn’t know how the HECS system works and a Prime Minister who clearly has no idea how much his budget is hurting Australians.

“We know Tony Abbott lied about Medicare, he lied about cutting pensions, he lied about no new taxes – the form guide says that if Tony Abbott rules out death taxes on student debt, it’s more likely than ever to actually occur.”

Joe Hockey today supports death taxes on student debt

HOST: Christopher Pyne reckons it has got to the stage where HECS should be collected from the estates of those who die with the debt. Now I don’t know about you, but when I went to Uni I didn't have much of anything, let alone an estate.

HOCKEY: Yeah, and that wouldn't be much different today. Look it shouldn't be different to any other loan. It is only against the estate of the individual, it is not going to go across families and so on. And, look, that is the same as any other loan, any other mortgage that we have in our lives. And it wouldn't be any different. It shouldn't be any different.

 Joe Hockey - TODAY show – 29 May 2014

 HOCKEY: No, look, it shouldn't be treated any differently to any other loan that is applied whether it be a mortgage or anything else.  

ABC News 24 – 29 May 2014

Tony Abbott opposes death taxes on student debt

Abbott: But I want to make it absolutely crystal clear this government is not going to change the existing rules and the existing rules in respect of university debts, fee help debt, HECS debt are that they cease, they cease on decease, as it were. 

Benson: Okay, so we can rule that out, they won’t be persued to the grave?

Abbott: They will not be persued, no.

Tony Abbott – ABC Radio National – 29 May 2014

Christopher Pyne supports death taxes on student debt

Mr Pyne said he had no “ideological opposition” to ¬collecting debts from the estates of former students who died still owing money to the government’s income ¬contingent student loan scheme, which is commonly known as HECS.

“If an elderly person passes away with a HECS debt, they wouldn’t be able to say to the bank, we’re not paying back our mortgage, yet they are at the moment entitled to not pay back their HECS debt,” Mr Pyne said.

AFR – 28 May 2014

“The fundamental principles of HECS are that students make a contribution to their own education but only repay their loans when they  earn reasonable money,” Senator Carr said.

“The Abbott Government fails to understand that governments spend on education because of the public benefit to society – this Government’s push for user-pays totally misses that basic principle.  

“This is further proof that their priorities are completely wrong.

“And it’s further proof that this entire Higher Education package is policy on the run - a massive cut in search of a plan.”


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