On 17 October 2019 the Senate referred the provisions of the following bills to the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee (the committee) for inquiry and report by 22 November 2019:
Education Legislation Amendment (Tuition Protection and Other Measures) Bill 2019 (Tuition Protection Bill)
VET Student Loans (VSL Tuition Protection Levy) Bill 2019 (VSL Levy Bill)
Higher Education Support (HELP Tuition Protection Levy) Bill 2019 (HELP Levy Bill).
In accordance with the recommendation of the Senate Selection of Bills Committee, the committee considered the three bills concurrently.
Conduct of the inquiry
Details of the inquiry were made available on the committee's website. The committee also contacted a number of organisations and individuals inviting submissions to the inquiry. Submissions were received from 20 organisations, as detailed at Appendix 1.
The committee held one public hearing in Canberra on 12 November 2019. The witness list for the hearing can be found at Appendix 2.
Compatibility with human rights
The statement of compatibility with human rights for the Tuition Protection Bill indicates that this bill engages the following human rights:
the right to education in article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
the right to privacy in article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR);
the right to a fair and public hearing in article 14 of the ICCPR; and
the right to be presumed innocent in Article 14 of the ICCPR.
The statement of compatibility with human rights for the Tuition Protection Bill concluded that the bill is compatible with human rights because 'to the extent that it may limit human rights, the limitations are reasonable, necessary and proportionate'.
The statements of compatibility with human rights for the VSL Levy Bill and the HELP Levy Bill state that both bills are compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011. The statements noted that this was because neither bill in itself raised any human rights issues.
At the time of writing the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights had not reported on the bills.
Financial impact statement
Each of the bills' explanatory memoranda states that based on the projected revenue collected through the levy system, the measure is expected to generate $3 million over the forward estimates.
The committee thanks those individuals and organisations who contributed to the inquiry by preparing written submissions and giving evidence at public hearings.
Notes on references
References in this report to the Committee Hansard are to the proof Hansard. Page numbers may vary between the proof and official transcripts.