Senator crosses floor on student loans bill

14 August 2018

Written by: Tennyson Tinning

The former Independent Tasmanian stays true to his word to vote against the proposed student loan repayment bill

Nationals senator Steve Martin will cross the floor to vote against the Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment Bill 2018.

The former independent Tasmanian will break ranks with the government on the bill proposing to reduce the student loan repayment threshold from $55,874 to $44,999 a year, staying firm on his position held prior to joining the Nationals in May.

“Some would say that I have crossed the floor against my Party, but I see it as staying true to my word,” Senator Martin said in a statement posted to his website.

“From day one they have known my views on this Bill and they have supported my independence on this topic, which is close to my heart.”

“It is my concern that any reduction to the HECS-HELP repayment threshold would, in effect, be a disincentive to students, especially those from lower socio-economic backgrounds.”

In last year’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO), the Federal Government announced it was lowering the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP) repayment threshold.

The level of repayment will be scaled. If earnings are at $45,000, repayments will be at one per cent of your taxable income annually. The repayments top out at 10 per cent when income reaches $132,000 a year.

The bill also planned to introduce a new maximum lifetime cap of $104,440 in HELP loans –

or $150,000 for students of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science – from 1 January 2019.

Changing the repayment threshold will save the Government just over $378 million over four years. Implementing a lifetime cap on student loans will actually cost just under $23 million over four years.