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By Lauren Vadnjal
May 03, 2015
By Lauren Vadnjal
May 03, 2015

If you're on foreign soil luxuriating in the extra cash from not having to pay back your HECS debt, the party may be over. Education Minister Christopher Pyne wants you to cough up.

In the lead-up to this month's delivery of the 2015-16 federal budget — in which education is expected to take similar hardline savings cuts as last year — Pyne has announced legislation will soon be introduced obliging Australians living overseas to start paying back their HECS and HELP debts.

In the spirit of making everything fair, Pyne reckons that every ex-student should have to pay back the cost of their education, regardless of where they're living. "There is no good reason why someone working as a banker in London or New York and earning over the threshold shouldn't pay back what they owe Australia," he said in a statement.

Which (we'll admit reluctantly under our breaths this one time) doesn't sound inherently ludicrous. Currently, there are tens of thousands of ex-students living overseas debt-free, which is in contrast to their Australian university system alumni, slogging it out at home and quietly lamenting the slice of each pay cheque that goes back to paying off their HECS debt. But if the bill passes, come July 1, 2017, it won't matter where you're living and working — everyone will be forced to start paying it off. Sorry expats. It was good while it lasted.

But well-educated Australians working in hostels, kitchens and creative careers abroad need not freak out just yet. As it goes when you're living in Australia, you'll only have to start paying off your HECS once you start earning more than the threshold, currently $53,000 a year. This new rule looks set to target those bringing in the big bucks overseas, and is a much more welcome way to raise revenue than Pyne's failed attempt at deregulating uni fees.

Via the Sydney Morning Herald.

Published on May 03, 2015 by Lauren Vadnjal


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