Abbott's threat to ditch school bonus has parents divided

Doing the sums on private school funding ...
Doing the sums on private school funding ... 

Tony Abbott has revealed that Labor's school kids bonus payment will be axed by a coalition government, with the opposition leader branding the scheme a "cash splash" totally unrelated to education.

The bonus was designed by Labor to give families on Tax Benefit Part A cash payments of $410 for each child in primary school and $820-a-year for each high school student.

Since its introduction, about 1.2 million families across Australia have received $588 million in bonus payments to spend on school equipment, such as shoes or sports gear.

Mr Abbott said he was confident families would still be better off under a coalition government because it would eliminate wasteful and unnecessary government spending.

"We accept that government can't be like Santa Claus," he said.

Members of the Essential Baby parenting forums are divided on the proposed axing of the bonus.

"The school kids bonus is brilliant," wrote member Excentrique. "You get it when you need it, rather than after you have spent the money. I don't know what I would have done this year without it, starting my second child in a private school needing uniforms and a tonne of books. The money is now gone. The way I see it, education is very important to the future of the country. The school kids bonus helps to ensure that more kids are properly equipped to start school. Teenagers are more likely to have a computer and printer in their home."

Some said that they preferred the scheme to the previous Labor initiative, the Education Tax Refund. "I never knew how to claim back expenses with my tax," said Xena, "so I never did and this time of year has always been so tight. This year I have felt so much better about sending my kids to school."

Others think the bonus should be abolished, with funds distributed to the education system in other ways.

Beastie wrote: "Lets get rid of these entitlements. Everyone wants to fund the NDIS and Gonski reforms but nobody wants to lose their bonuses."

One school principal said that directly funding schools with the bonus amount per student would be her idea of "heaven".


"If the bonus was paid directly to my school I (as principal) would have an extra $100 000 in the budget. I could supply all school supplies (books, pens, etc.) and provide uniforms for students quite easily."

One thing that members all agreed on was that schools need to be better funded. Some respondents revealed that their children's public school book lists this year included things like soap, paper towels and tissues alongside pens and exercise books.

As PaigeP summed it up, "Public Education is suffering and parents are making up a part of that shortfall so I don't think it's a great idea to abolish a very helpful payment unless Abbott plans to overhaul the system and start funding it properly."

Whether it's an election-deciding issue remains to be seen.