Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall urges for changes to HECS loans

21 March 2024

In May last year, along with members of the crossbench, I raised concerns with the Minister of Education at the unfair timing and indexation for CPI of HECS debts. 10 months on, nothing has changed and we are approaching the next indexation date of 1 June. 2.9 million Australians have some form of HECS debt and it takes close to 10 years to repay it in full. The current HECS system impacts the number of young people attending university to be our future workforce. Older Australians are also returning to university to retrain or gain further qualifications, many of whom are women. Right now, HECS repayments are lumped with income tax as a tax-withholding payment to the ATO until you do your tax returns, rather than being payments that reduce your HECS debt in real time. Either the HECS repayment withheld by the ATO should be attributed in real time to your debt and decrease it or we must move the indexation date. This would reduce the burden on all of those who are struggling under the HECS debt burden.

There is a fantastic petition by the member for Kooyong, with now over 160,000 people supporting it, calling for changes to HECS indexation. I call on the Minister for Education to deal with this as a matter of urgency and absolutely before 1 June 2024.