Human Services Minister Kim Carr
Human Services Minister Kim Carr Callum Bentley

Groups call to reverse cap on self-education expenses

PLANS to introduce a "tax on learning" hit a snag on Monday, with more than 20 professional industry bodies calling on the Federal Government to reverse a $2000 cap on self-education expenses.

The call from groups including Universities Australia, the Law Council and Australian Medical Association comes after the Gillard government voiced plans for the cap earlier this year.

But since the change of Labor leadership, Higher Education Minister Kim Carr has reopened consultations on the proposed cap.

Expenses incurred by people getting short courses and professional training to further their careers or open new doors has traditionally been covered by tax deductions.

But the Gillard government proposal sought to recover extra savings for government coffers by limiting claimable self-education expenses to $2000 per person, per year.

Industries as diverse as engineers, dentists, veterinarians, accountants and doctors have joined the call for the proposal to be dumped.

A communiqué from a meeting of the 22 groups in Canberra on Monday said the government "has not made the case for change" and had "ignored the importance of self-education".

It also said such a cap would directly threaten those in rural and remote areas, especially where communities were reliant on on-going training in industries such as health care.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson, who convened the meeting, said the cap was a "tax on learning" at the very time the nation needed more continuous professional development.

"This is a short-sighted measure which will have long-term consequences as we move from the resources boom to diversify our economy and build new knowledge-based industries," she said.

"A smarter Australia requires a smarter approach to lifelong education and training."

The group plans to roll out a new campaign against any such proposal, including commissioning economic research to model the full impact such a cut would have on the nation.


Groups calling for the $2000 cap to be dumped:

  • Associations Forum
  • Australian Computer Society
  • Australian Dental Association
  • Australian Healthcare &
  • Hospitals Association
  • Australian Institute of Architects
  • Australian Institute of Company Directors
  • Australian Medical Association
  • Australian Nursing Federation
  • Australian Services Roundtable
  • Australian Veterinary Association
  • Consult Australia
  • Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations
  • CPA Australia
  • Engineers Australia
  • General Practice Registrars Australia
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia
  • Law Council of Australia
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Australia
  • Pharmacy Guild of Australia
  • Professions Australia
  • Rural Doctors of Australia
  • Universities Australia