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16 Apr 2013 | Press Release

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Slap in the face for professionals

The Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) says Treasurer Wayne Swan's announcement to limit the tax deductibility for participation in self-education, such as continuing professional development (CPD), reflects a total lack of appreciation of health practitioners' compulsory CPD requirements. It is plainly a money grab aimed at what the government thinks is a soft target.

Under the reforms, the tax deduction for work-related self-education expenses will be limited to just $2,000 per person from 1 July 2014.

President of the ADA, Dr Karin Alexander, said: "This announcement does not recognise the fact that many professions, such as engineers, medical practitioners, legal practitioners and dentists must undertake compulsory CPD to maintain their practising rights and licences. CPD's role is to ensure that the quality of the services professionals offer consumers are current and cutting edge. If these measures are implemented, they will create a significant barrier for dentists to pursue comprehensive CPD, expand their scope of expertise or undertake specialised training.

"Self-education costs are high. A dentist wishing to attend a conference in a major city will incur travel expenses, accommodation and registration fees for the course as well as forgo their time at work. The basic costs of attending a three-day event to acquire the required minimum 20 hours of CPD (as is mandated by the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Authority) would easily exceed $3,000. Registration fees of $1,750 would be a minimum, basic travel expenses would be in the order of hundreds of dollars, and modest accommodation would exceed $750. CPD events with leading international and national speakers cost money and the Treasurer's announcement ignores this.

"Rural practitioners, who already struggle with issues associated with remote practice, will now cop added expenses. Professionals make a lifelong commitment and investment in their own self education to ensure they can provide the highest quality of service to consumers. The ADA can't see any logic in what has been announced.

"The announcement will compromise the availability of quality CPD courses, and result in lower calibre courses that better fit the tax deductibility limits. Specialist dental courses are expensive and demanding for the participant - they lead to the creation of highly skilled practitioners. Those participating often have to forego paid employment. These sanctions will plainly put such courses out of reach of most practitioners, leaving Australia without specialists to deliver care. This announcement risks resulting in fewer and more costly services for consumers.

"The Australian Government's proposal is essentially a slap in the face for both health professionals and consumers."

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