ALP laptop rebate to bridge tech divide?

ALP laptop rebate to bridge tech divide?

Summary: Opposition leader Kevin Rudd has announced Labor's plans to "bridge the digital divide" between rich and poor but some are already questioning how much the scheme will help the non tech-savvy.


As the federal election campaign enters its second week, debate over how to address the tech future of the nation has escalated.

Late on Friday, Kevin Rudd announced Labor's plan to provide a tax rebate scheme for low-income families, which will allow them to purchase laptops, printers and broadband access as an education-related expense.

The rebate falls under Labor's 50 percent Education Tax Refund plan, targeting Australia's less well-off families, and would be made available to households with incomes of up to AU$100,000.

"I think it's very positive in terms of initiatives," said Sheryle Moon, CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association.

"The industry is focused on how we continue to make sure we have the right ICT skill levels in the country, and any move to ensure that we have an ICT literate workforce in the future is welcomed," she said, but went on to add that "we still don't have enough details yet."

Moon expressed some reservations in regards to the scope and potential implementation of the plan, saying: "Without proper broadband infrastructure you might question the value of the scheme in order for certain families to really benefit."

Communications Minister Helen Coonan slammed Labor's plan, saying: "If families are paying AU$1200 per year for broadband, it's obviously going to wipe out any benefit from the education rebate."

"A one-off purchase of a computer is hardly going to keep families from the kind of spiralling cost of then having to pay at least AU$1,200 a year for fibre, having no other choice," Coonan added.

The AIIA's Moon also suggested "there might have been a case for putting the money into schools", as opposed to offering it directly to families through a tax rebate.

"When it comes to broadband, not all schools are connected yet either," she said.

"In schools children are using technology in concert with their education outcomes," said Moon. "In the home we can't even be sure of who's using it, let alone what for."

"At this stage it's very hard to tell what the impact will be, the plan is focused on a specific group of people -- a means tested group," she said. "Are we talking about impacting on a large proportion of the population or not?"

AAP contributed to this report.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, Hardware, Laptops, NBN, IT Employment, Tech Industry

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  • Open source alternative to rebate.

    Why not promote free open source software instead of providing a tax rebate ?, fedora, opensuse and ubuntu, among other forms of easy to use free open source software.
  • You have to be kidding

    As a high income earner I already subsidise welfare families from the Taxes I pay. The only people who will do well out of this is the owners of Cash Converter Stores.
  • How does that help?

    How does that help a low income family afford a laptop? If you look at Dell laptops as an example the cost of the Windows operating system makes up a trivial component of the price.
  • Reply to "You Have To Be kidding"

    You may claim to be a high income earner yet you seam to not have a high intelligance.

    1. Yes you have a point that Cash Conveters will profit from this schme.
    2. I have had to rely o welfare at one time in my life i would not wish it on anyone you can barely affort to live let alone buy a laptop, yet how are these people going to become "HIGH" income earns if they cant access the basics of a computer and internet (before anyone says it is not a basic, i am a IT tech. IT IS A BASIC)
    3. "Subsidise" Hey?? Maybe you should piss of to the US then. Where if you lost your job you get no help. Your Choice??
  • I love it when...

    Someone bags a previous poster about their level of intelligence, then litters their own post with spelling mistakes, poor grammar and abusive language!!

    Way to go, champ!!
  • This has been done before

    This is the old Union scheme started in 1999 - which *failed*. Liberal party...check this out.

    Looks to me like they are rehashing it again....

    It was called Virtual Communities
  • Welfare


    I have lost an a job I was made redundant after 5 years. I was out of work for 4 months and I had "NO" access to welfare at all because I served this country in the ADF for 20 years and recieve a small pension for that service. So while you did get welfare while you were out of work I didn't. I however did have savings and I continued to send my children to private school and drove my expensive luxury car around just for fun.

    Low income earners have access to the interenet via public libaries these places are also full of books that strangley can be used for learning new skills. How many dole bludgers do you see in libaries? I am feed up with the attitude that high income earners should subsidise the lazy dole bludgers in this country. This one is a vote looser for Kevin Crud.
  • Dotrebates

    Earn easy cash back from for all of your online shopping. No registration ever required to file rebates, quick 1 week payments and even by Paypal! Visit today!
  • Reply to Wlefare

    I am receiving Centerlink benefits. I am a single mother of three and I ask you, as you seem to know so much, what parent in their right mind is going to take young children to a public library. One day a week our public library has a kids day, the parents have to stay with the children though. So how am I supposed to access the Internet, with a half hour limit, and keep an eye on my kids so they don't get into trouble? Childcare isn't cheap and I have no babysitter and busy family members.

    Also it seems you have a 'greater than thou' opinion of yourself because you sent your kids to a private school. SO WHAT. My ex, who attended private schools, used to tell me that private school education is more better. More better? Great advocate for private schooling.
  • calling the kettle black

    before you comment about other people's intelligence, may I suggest that you learn to properly spell English words. I am only 16 and i can see you incapabilities in the language.
  • agreed

    totally agree with you
  • You are all retarted

    haha. None of you can write properly or form an intelligent sentence!
  • Why restrict the rebate to $100k families

    Our household has a single earner of more than $100k (Not much more than $100K). We have 2 children, 1 of which has high needs and therfore my partner cannot work. I work in excess of 60 hours most weeks to get ahead and provide more for my kids than we had growing up. I have a mortgage and have never received any type of first home grant. Yet again, the government is penalising the people that add value to this country. Maybe we should push out 1 kid a year and rely on everyone else to support them. I can't wait until Christmas when all the government supported kids are playing with toys that have resulted from our hard work. What is the incentive to work hard in this country. Any educational rebate should be available for any child and not subject to means testing. If I had my time again, I would be living near the beach, not working and raising multitudes of children to support both my and their lifestyles. I believe that we are teaching the youth not to work hard and the Lucky country is fast becoming the Lazy country.
  • Rebates for low income families only? why?

    I totally agree, I am part of a family that earns over $100k... because for 20years my husband and i have worked damn hard, building our own business that employs 6 staff. We have worked 70 - 90 hour weeks, regret the loss of time with our children and under current economic climate are in debt and nearly choking to death from tightening the belt AGAIN. Why is it that my children are less important (no way can i afford a laptop), and we have just heard that our taxes will more than likely be going up... to cover everyone else geting laptops, bonuses etc..... that hardly seems fair ..... what future does this country have? One of debt and no small businesses to support it..!! I dont disagree with low income families recieving this help, just the fact that at less than $200k income you are considered SO wealthy you should pay for everyone elses...
  • to reply above...

    you earn over 100K a year and still manage to be drowning to death in debt? what are you, a financial idiot?? do you drink your money away, gamble it on the horses, or do you just put it in your fireplace to keep the house warm?
    Me and my family exist on ~50K a year, are debt free and i get to spend alot of time with my children, hey and guess what, i can afford a laptop to, 50,000 a year! when you think about it thats alot of money, 100,000 is even more, maybe if you re-adjusted your goals from say a BMW down to a toyota you wouldnt be feeling so debt smothered

    BTW, i dont claim any rebates the government send my way (other than that 950, i dont think there was a box to tick saying no for that), have never recieved centrelink, and by the sounds of it, my family enjoy life much more than yours, frankly its offensive that you would come on these forums O woe is me, im only on 100,000 a year, 'tear', why dont you shut up and think about those people on 34,000 a year, who are full time workers as well you elitist