Hot on the heels of the government’s Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry into religious educational institutions and anti-discrimination laws which have attacked the right of religious schools to employ staff consistent with their ethos and beliefs, the Albanese Labor Government is now attempting to 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 is urging the Government to rule out adopting these recommendations especially at a time when more Australians are turning to religious charities and organisations for support, and non-government schools are responsible for more than 35% students across Australia.
The changes have the potential to devastate non-government schools which have enjoyed DGR support since 1954.
Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor said this was just another example of a government with the wrong priorities.
“At a time when Labor is taxing Australians at record levels, Jim Chalmers’ own review is calling to increase taxes on non-government schools,” Mr Taylor said.
“This will just pass on costs to families struggling with the cost of living and leave non-government schools deprived of vital infrastructure.”
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.
“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.”