The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of David Bradbury

David Bradbury

Assistant Treasurer, Minister Assisting for Financial Services & Superannuation and Minister for Competition Policy & Consumer Affairs

5 March 2012 - 18 September 2013

Media Release of 29/05/2013

NO.091

Coalition opposes level playing field for ethics classes in government schools

The House of Representatives today passed legislation which will enable eligible providers of ethics classes in government schools to receive tax deductible donations.

The legislation was passed despite a desperate last minute attempt from the Coalition to oppose a level playing field for providers of ethics classes in government schools.

"Currently, the tax laws contain general categories of deductible gift recipient (DGR) for organisations which provide religious instruction in government schools, but there is no category for providers of ethics classes," said Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury.

"If providers of ethics classes want DGR status, an organisation must make a request to be specifically named in the tax laws, which requires an amendment to be passed by the Parliament in the case of each organisation. This is a time-consuming and uncertain process.

"The Gillard Government wants to support ethics classes in government schools through the provision of the DGR tax concession, but making individual organisations jump through hoops to be specifically named in the tax laws is not the right approach.

"We are proposing a better, simpler and more principled way of providing DGR status to eligible organisations. Under our approach, eligible organisations would make an application to the Australian Taxation Office, rather than have to try securing a Parliamentary amendment."

When interviewed on radio this morning, Shadow Assistant Treasurer, Senator Mathias Cormann, said:

In principle I support that we put ethical education on the same footing as other similar providers for sure.

[ABC  702 RADIO – 29 MAY 2013]

But the Opposition's actions clearly contradict Senator Cormann's own words.

By moving an amendment to remove a measure which establishes a DGR category in the tax laws for organisations providing ethics classes in public schools as an alternative to special religious education classes, the Opposition have made it clear that they do not support a level playing field for ethics classes. They want a two-tier system.

"Ethics classes provide parents with more choice about educational options for their children.

"The Liberal Party claim to be a party that supports choice, but again they have demonstrated that these are just empty and hollow words.

"They need to come clean on what the real agenda is behind their opposition to ethics classes in government schools."

The legislation will now be considered by the Senate.

29 May 2013