Below are the Labor Party policy responses
Climate change and renewable energy targets
Labor will ensure that 50 per cent of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030 and ensure the Federal Government leads by example as a direct purchaser of renewable energy. We will make the Clean Energy Finance Corporation more flexible by reducing red tape, and allowing it to invest in a wider range of technology options. Labor will establish regional and Community Power Networks, and provide $206 million to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to invest in Concentrated Solar Thermal technology.
Immigration and treatment of refugees
Labor’s immigration policy is centred on a humane and compassionate approach to asylum seekers, while maintaining appropriate deterrents to prevent people smugglers preying on some of the world’s most vulnerable people. A Shorten Labor Government will stand firm on maintaining a policy of offshore processing, but will significantly increase annual funding to the UNHCR, and will almost double the current intake to 27,000 by 2025.
Assets test for Age Pension and Age Pension age
In 2015, the Abbott-Turnbull Government joined the Greens to cut the pension assets test. Labor opposed this cut in Parliament because we believe the policy is flawed, and will reduce incentives to save and accumulate assets. The Budget we will inherit when we come to government is fragile and it would be irresponsible to commit to reversing this change from opposition, but we understand the situation this cut has put pensioners into – and that is why we will be undertaking a review into the pension means test in government.
The Abbott-Turnbull Government wants to increase the pension age to 70, a change will affect Australians born after 1965. Labor strongly opposes this increase to the pension age.
Substantial changes to superannuation system were announced for the first time in the 2016 Budget. As Bill Shorten noted in his Budget Reply address, Labor has very grave concerns about many of these changes and will take time to consult with relevant stakeholders on this, and other measures in the Budget.
Labor will have more to say on super policy closer to the election.
Royal commission into banking sector
Labor will hold a Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking and financial services industry. This is an important decision that was not taken lightly – it’s been made after careful consideration over an extended period of time. This sector employs almost half a million people and it’s the fastest growing in the Australian economy, but confidence and trust has taken a huge hit after a series of scandals and high profile consumer rip offs in recent years.
Medicare & bulk billing
Nobody wants our health system to head down the same path as America. Labor created Medicare and will always protect Medicare. Labor will restore indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1 January 2017. This will apply to all services provided by GPs, allied health and other health practitioners and medical specialists. We will stop Mr Turnbull’s cuts which will reduce bulk billing and hit Australian families every time they visit the doctor.
The Turnbull Government’s changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will drive up the cost of healthcare for every single Australian. Pensioners, families and the chronically ill will be hit the hardest. Labor will stand up and protect Medicare by reversing Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to increase the cost of medicine. Labor will scrap the Turnbull Government’s increases to the price of medicine and ensure healthcare remains affordable to every Australian. The PBS is a central pillar of Medicare and our universal healthcare system.
Negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on investment properties
From 1 July 2017 Labor will limit negative gearing to new property, providing a strong incentive for new construction and adding thousands of jobs to the building industry. Our policy is fully grandfathered and will not have any impact on the existing property owners or people that use negative gearing for business purposes. They will still be able to deduct net rental losses from their income at any time, either before or after 1 July 2017. Negative gearing losses for new investments in shares and existing properties can still be used to offset investment income tax liabilities, and losses can continue to be carried forward to offset the final capital gain on the investment.
Company and personal tax
Bill Shorten invited the Liberal government to co-operate on cutting the tax rate for Australian small businesses to 25 per cent in 2015. We meant it then and we stand by it now. Labor will support a tax cut for small businesses with a turnover of less than $2 million dollars per year, because that’s what a small business is, but billion-dollar operations are not small businesses. Labor supports the government’s modest measures on bracket creep.
The former Labor Government planned to rollout fibre-to-the-premises to 93 percent of Australian households. Malcolm Turnbull abandoned this approach, and is instead rolling out a slower, second rate copper NBN that will leave Australia behind and hamstring our economy into the future. Turnbull promised his second rate NBN would cost $29.5 billion and be available for Australians by 2016. It has now blown out to up to $56 billion and will take until at least 2020 to build.
Labor will release its NBN policy closer to the election.
Mature workers’ assistance
Labor has supported the Turnbull Government’s policy measures to offer incentives for employers to return mature workers to the workforce, including the Restart Programme wage subsidy.
Shayne Neumann is Labor’s Shadow Minister for Ageing. Labor is committed to a national strategy for an age-friendly Australia under the direction of a dedicated Minister for Ageing and a whole-of-government approach to the challenges and opportunities presented by an ageing population. Labor will conduct an independent, transparent and thorough review of the aged care reforms, with a focus on funding models to promote and support active ageing, and will develop an aged care workforce strategy.
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