The Government Is Keen To Chase Your HECS Debt After You’ve Carked It

So the new Charles in Charge up in Canberra decided to drag the date of the Federal Budget forward by a few weeks. That’s all well and good. It’s a shrewd political gamble.

The only problem is that, come May 3rd, Malcolm Turnbull and his rag-tag Federal Government still actually has to deliver a Federal Budget document – and they’ll probably have to deliver one that betters both the scorched-earth slash-and-burn nightmare that was Tony Abbott‘s first budget, and his subsequent ho-hum do-nothing second one. Assuming they actually want to have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the very-likely and very-soon-afterwards Federal Election.
In their mad search for $aving$, the Turnbull Government is apparently setting their sights on Higher Education once again.
Following in the footsteps of the Abbott Government‘s hell-bent rampage on university fee deregulation, Turnbull is apparently coming for people who have found the ultimate loophole by dodging HECS repayments through the act of being a dead person.
According to Fairfax Media, the Government is mulling over a change to the way HECS debts can be recovered, by removing part of the provision that sees outstanding debts wiped upon the death of the individual in question.
As it stands, no HECS debt is recoverable from a deceased estate. The new system would see debts recoverable from estates that are worth more than $100,000. The move could potentially save the Federal Government as much as $800million per year.
If passed, it’s speculated that the new law would only affect people in high-income, affluent families. More specifically, it would affect those who take extended time off (say, for maternity or paternity) leave, and re-enter the workforce part-time on a salary that’s below the threshold for HECS repayments.
And whilst that may sound like an oddly reasonable policy on paper, rest assured that’s not where it ends.
Fairfax also reports that the Turnbull Government is adamant on maintaining the Abbott-borne policy of fee deregulation, and is gunning for the income threshold of repayments to be lowered, whilst raising the cap on student fees. Essentially, you’ll be paying off a bigger debt sooner.
But, in another surprisingly sensible move, the Government is also considering abandoning the Abbott Government policy of extending direct Federal funding to private colleges.
It’s the proverbial good cop/bad cop of policy making, really.
Photo: Stefan Postles/Getty.