By referencing the proposed Budget 2016/17 measures that started on the table then were taken off the table prior to Tuesday, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten made it clear from the start of his Budget reply speech that he was less than impressed with what had been delivered by Treasurer Scott Morrison.
What he also made clear is that Australia should plan to head to the polls on 2 July, with two references to an election on this date, despite no official announcement having been made. And that when voting on that date, Australians should understand that Labor was a better alternative. He promised that Labor would introduce legislation to protect Medicare from privatisation and legislate marriage equality within the first 100 days should he be voted in as Prime Minister.
Asking if the Budget was really the point of the “Turnbull experiment”, Mr Shorten listed the cuts that were still in the Budget, such as education, pensions and Medicare and noted that there was nothing for ordinary working people, instead just tax cuts for wealthy individuals. “From Tony’s tradies to Malcolm’s millionaires” was the phrase he used to describe how Budget 2016 helped big business rather than battlers.
Stating that the budget also failed the fiscal responsibility test, he questioned why debt had tripled under the Coalition, despite it claiming a budget emergency.
“Treating the Australian people with respect”, is how Bill Shorten believes Labor would deal with the nation’s budget, by being open and honest about what the budget can afford.
Labor plans to “deliver the national Budget without smashing the family budget” and stated it would:
- support the tax cuts for individuals earning over $80,000
- reject enterprise tax cuts but support a cut in the company tax rate for small business valued up to $2 million
- not support the retrospective changes to superannuation reforms
- make the two per cent temporary deficit repair levy permanent
- impose an annual cap on loans to students studying at private colleges
- support the tax cut for small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $2 million.
In his speech he also noted that Australians don’t want to be forced to work until they’re 70, a reference to the legislation that still exists to increase the Age Pension age by 2035.
On superannuation, he said he was pleased that three years after abolishing the Low Income Superannuation Contribution, the Government had decide to re-introduce it with a different name – Low Income Superannuation Tax Offset. And while Treasurer Scott Morrison has stated that only a small amount of people will be affected by the changes to superannuation, Mr Shorten responded that, “When the system is undermined, everyone is affected, everyone is at risk.
“Every single superannuation holder can now only guess what Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison will do next.”
Mr Shorten also ‘congratulated’ the Coalition for adopting policies that were actually developed by Labor.
Moving forward, Mr Shorten said that Labor would embrace initiatives that saw gender equality by closing the pay gap and properly funding childcare. Climate change would also be tackled under Labor, by investing in renewable energy and stopping the country’s top polluters from continuing to pollute the environment. “It’s time to turn things around, which is why a Labor government will deliver 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030,” he said.
Public transport would also get a boost, with a $10 billion infrastructure loan, potentially funded by investment from superannuation funds. Stating that it was time to build the nation rather than egos, Mr Shorten noted “Instead of taking selfies on the train, we’ll get new projects under way.”
Increases to GST would not occur under Labor but already outlined plans for negative gearing would be brought in, however, any changes would not be applied retrospectively. He also noted that this would help first home buyers realise the Australian dream of owing their own home without having to rely on wealthy parents, as Mr Turnbull had suggested in a radio interview.
Do you think Mr Shorten is a worthy alternative to Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister? If the Coalition remains in power, are there any Budget 2016/17 measures that you think will struggle to be passed in the Senate?