Private schools are demanding the Federal Government rule out adopting recommendations from a draft Productivity Commission report which the sector claims will “rip funding from non-government schools and charities”.
Commissioned by Treasurer Jim Chalmers in February, The Future Foundations for Giving Report has issued draft recommendations for deductible gift recipient (DGR) status to be scrapped for non-government primary, secondary, childcare, aged care and other religious organisations.
It also calls for the ending of “basic religious charity” status – increasing red tape and reporting requirements for almost one in five Australian charities – including those which support schools and religious education.
The Coalition says this is “a slap in the face” for the non-government sector, at a time when more Australians are turning to religious charities and organisations for support.
The release of the draft Productivity Commission report comes amid surging enrolments for non-government schools which are responsible for more than 35% students across Australia.
“At a time when Labor is taxing Australians at record levels, Jim Chalmers’ own review is calling to increase taxes on non-government schools,” Shadow Treasurer, Angus Taylor, said in a statement.
“This will just pass on costs to families struggling with the cost of living and leave non-government schools deprived of vital infrastructure. This is a cynical, political, and divisive proposal from a government which has spent a year dividing Australians with ideological distractions.”
Shadow Minister for Education, Sarah Henderson, said the proposal would have far-reaching consequences.
“This proposed school building tax is a direct, ideological attack on independent and faith-based schools and must immediately be ruled out by the Albanese Government,” Senator Henderson said.
“This would be catastrophic for low fee-paying non-government schools which depend on DGR status to construct new school buildings and other vital infrastructure.”
‘Another cruel blow for struggling families’
Senator Henderson said that with the vast majority of students at non-government schools from low and middle-income families, the proposal is “another cruel blow for struggling families.”
“After attacking religious freedom in schools and delivering discriminatory teaching scholarships, this is further evidence of Jason Clare’s hostility towards the non-government sector. Parents have no interest in Labor’s insidious class warfare.”
Senator Henderson said non-government schools do not only support parental choice, but also play a vital role in taking funding pressure off the government school sector.
“The government has a responsibility to protect the funding mechanisms which are critical to the viability of low fee-paying schools particularly in regional and remote Australia where student numbers are reduced and capital is scarce.”