The majority voted in favour of passing the bills (in parliamentary jargon, they gave the bills a third reading). Since the bills have already been passed in the House of Represenatives, they will now become law.
What do the bills do?
The bills require Australians living overseas and earning over the threshold (which was $54,126 in 2015–16) to repay their Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt or Trade Support Loan (TSL) debt under the same compulsory repayment scheme that applies in Australia.
The bills will also require Australians with HELP or TSL debts to notify the Commissioner of Taxation if they plan to be overseas for at least 183 days or if they have been overseas for at least 183 days over any 12 month period. The notification will have to occur either:
- no later than seven days after leaving Australia; or
- no later than seven days after the end of those 183 days.
See StudyAssist for information about when these changes will come into effect.
Previously, Australians with HELP or TSL debts who moved overseas didn't have to make any repayments, regardless of how much they earned. Nor did they have to notify the Commissioner if they went overseas.
For more information, read the bills digest. Also see ABC News.
Disclaimer: Don't rely on this information to determine your new tax obligations - seek government information (a suggested starting point is below).
What should I do now?
A good starting point is to visit the Government's StudyAssist website, which gives an overview of the changes and what they mean for you.