You did note this during the Big Free Lunch, didn’t you?
Let me now turn to the crucial area of education. The Coalition has a distinctive approach to education policy, with a clear focus on choice, high standards and greater national consistency. Unlike our opponents, we have never had hit-lists of independent schools.* Unlike our opponents, we have always believed in the unconditional right of Australian parents to choose the nature and the quality of the education they want for their children. We are unashamedly the parties of parental school choice. The blossoming of low-fee independent schools in the last decade, which we have supported, has given many families for the first time real choice over the school to which they send their child. Choice is a vehicle for driving better school performance across the board because it empowers the consumers of education services and that’s the students and the parents. Today I announce a policy that will further increase choice and improve education opportunities by helping parents make the investments in their children’s future that matter so much. I know that for many parents this is the most important investment of all but, of course, they face many competing pressures on the family budget and so a re-elected Coalition Government will introduce a new tax rebate for education expenses including, crucially, school fees.** This will apply for every student, beginning with preschool – that’s kindergarten in some States – until the end of secondary school. Parents will be refunded up to $400 annually for each child at primary or preschool and they will be refunded up to $800 annually for each secondary school student. Read the rest of this entry »