Institute opposes Treasurer’s cap on self-education expense deductions

The Australian Institute of Architects opposes the federal government’s proposed reforms to self-education expense deductions announced by the Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, the Hon Wayne Swan MP on 13 April.

As an independent professional representative body for approximately 12,000 members nationally, the Institute believes the proposed reforms will negatively impact the professional development of the architecture industry and in turn the future quality of our built environment.

Treasurer Swan’s proposed reform will involve an annual tax deduction cap of $2000 on all work-related education expenses, such as formal qualifications, textbooks, stationery, travel expenses, conferences, seminars and self-organised study tours. The current claimable amount is unlimited.

Architectural practice, theory and research are continually evolving to meet the challenges posed by societal and climatic changes while continued changes in technology, infrastructure, materials and an increase in innovation requires architects to be multidisciplinary in both skills and scope.

This need for continued learning is compounded by Australia’s rigorous system for accreditation of architects which in many state jurisdictions incorporates minimum continuing professional development requirements. Additionally, in recognition of the importance of continuing education, the Institute has implemented a new level of membership (A+) which requires a commitment to a minimum annual level of professional development be undertaken by all A+ members, further assisting Australian architects to compete in this increasingly global economy.

‘Equitable access to architecture-related education is not a luxury but a necessity for the creators of our cities, towns and communities and we are concerned that the proposed cap on self-education expense deductions will act as a disincentive for architects and other professionals to undertake further studies,’ said David Parken, Institute CEO.

In addition, the government’s efforts to address the future challenges facing the built environment including environmental concerns will require a commitment to facilitating the self-education of the professionals responsible for its adaptation.

‘Climate concerns are challenging architects to create environmentally sustainable built environments not only through the design of new buildings but through the adaptation of existing buildings to prepare for climate change mitigation. The estimated replacement value of existing buildings currently stands in excess of $5.7 trillion, therefore it is vital that the profession adequately prepares to meet these current and future challenges,’ said Mr Parken.

‘While we support sensible measures to address rorts in the current system which is a key driver of the government’s changes, we believe the implications of the proposed reform are too blunt and could be likened to taking a sledgehammer to the issue when a more targeted tightening of criteria could achieve a similar outcome without risking the up-skilling of professionals.’

Typical costs for built environment-related conferences are in the range of $1500 excluding associated travel and accommodation, costs which increase greatly for rural and regional practitioners.

The Institute is seeking a meeting with Treasurer Swan and Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Craig Emerson, as well as Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, to discuss the proposed reforms and concerns for the architecture profession.

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For media enquiries contact:

Alexandra Cato
National Media and Communications Officer
Australian Institute of Architects
P. + 61 (3) 8620 3813 | M. +61 (0) 416 022 818
alexandra.cato@architecture.com.au

The Australian Institute of Architects is the peak body for the architectural profession, representing 11,500 members across Australia and overseas. The Institute actively works to improve the quality of our built environment by promoting quality, responsible and sustainable design. Learn more about the Institute, log on to www.architecture.com.au.