‘Scrap the cap’ campaign a success

2013-09-09 10_34_58-Dr David Neck - Cottesloe Animal Hospital

A proposed cap on tax-deductions for work related self-education expenses has been delayed until 2015 due to a successful campaign waged by an alliance of professional organisations including the Australian Veterinary Association.

The Federal Government announced the new changes, to come into effect on July 1, 2014, prior to any consultation in April this year. The proposed $2000 cap was introduced to yield savings of $514.3million over four years to fund the Labor Government’s National Plan for School Improvement.

The Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association slammed the policy, arguing that it is detrimental to animal welfare

“It’s critical that vets remain current on the latest treatments, technologies and innovations to make sure animals get the care they need,” President David Neck said. “Vets have an average total income of $74,000 per annum and pay for their education out of this level of income.”

“Placing a limit on what they can claim as a tax deduction is bad policy, made on the run.”

The Australian Veterinary Association joined with dozens of professional bodies to form the #scrapthecap alliance. As a result of lobbying the Labor party agreed to delay implementation until July 1, 2015, pending consultation.

Amit Vohra, CEO of the General Practice Registrars Australia, said that regardless of the outcome of the election, more needed to be done to ensure that the cap was “off the table”.

“A few Coalition senior ministers have gone on record to say that they don’t agree with the cap in its current form, so there is a good chance that if the Coalition comes to power at least they would be open to negotiation and discussion on what it could look like – but it isn’t a guarantee.”

Vohra said that the issue was unlikely to be among the first on the table for the new Government, but the campaign is far from over.

“We intend to work towards a formal meeting with the treasury in the first instance to confirm the cap is scrapped, but if not to commit to a dialogue,” he said. “We now have a significant evidence base building as to why the cap will damage productivity in the long term.”

Vohra said the alliance was seeking to fund an independent study to analyse the productivity impact of a cap.

“I think the real discussion around this will begin in February or March 2014 in the lead up to the next budget,” he said. “This is the appropriate time to ensure that the scrap is capped to ensure it doesn’t show up in the budget or indeed the forward estimates in May. The critical lobbying period is early 2014.”

The alliance will meet with key stakeholders following the election to plan the ongoing campaign.

For more information about the #scrapthecap campaign, visit www.scrapthecap.com.au

ANNE FAWCETT

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