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Federal. Liberal / Coalition. Liberals to Cut Schoolkids bonus’.

January 31, 2013

Abbott flags axing of student bonus

January 31, 2013 – 2:07PMTony Abbott confirms the coalition plans to cut the school kids bonus, despite advice that he should omit the measure from his press club speech.

Tony Abbott has confirmed plans to axe the Schoolkids Bonus, with the Opposition Leader including the decision in a set speech against the advice of a senior staffer.

The $1.23 billion Gillard government scheme provides families with $410 for each child in primary school and $820 for each child in high school, a program it argues helps with education costs.

Mr Abbott’s address to the National Press Club on Thursday followed the leaking of an internal email trail showing his interest in being seen as a ”good bloke”.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addresses the National Press Club in Canberra on Thursday. Photo: Andrew Meares

News Ltd reported the email trail showed that Mr Abbott was set to announce the axing of a major government program, but a senior adviser urged him to drop it, describing it as ”a really bad idea”.

”I’d like to see more of the ‘vision thing’,” media adviser Andrew Hirst reportedly told Mr Abbott in reply to a draft of the speech.

In his speech, Mr Abbott said the Coalition would release its costings “after the government releases theirs – after the Budget and before polling day”.

“It won’t be easy to find the savings to fund tax cuts without a carbon tax but we won’t shirk the hard decisions, such as being up front with people that the Schoolkids Bonus will go – because it’s a cash splash with borrowed money that has nothing to do with education,” Mr Abbott told the audience.

Mr Abbott later confirmed his discussion with Mr Hirst had been about whether to announce the axing of the Schoolkids Bonus, but noted the decision was ultimately included in the speech.

“At the risk of dobbing on my principal press secretary, we did have a discussion via email,” Mr Abbott said in response to questions.

“It [the Schoolkids Bonus] is not going to happen under a Coalition government because it’s a cash splash with borrowed money that has nothing to do with education.”

The Gillard government says the Schoolkids Bonus goes to 1.3 million Australian families with children at school. It is available to families receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A plus young people in school receiving Youth Allowance and some other income support and veterans’ payments.

The Coalition has previously flagged its opposition to the Schoolkids Bonus in its current form, arguing its preference for the old system where families had to provide receipts to be reimbursed for education expenses.
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