Coalition attacks Labor for not backing NDIS funding

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken the opportunity to drive a wedge into the Labor Party, after rumours of ALP dissension over the universal Medicare levy increase to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The PM has said that Labor should follow its “correct instincts” and pass the measure.

In his Budget reply speech on 11 May, Bill Shorten said that Labor would only support the 0.5% increase in the Medicare levy for people in the top two income brackets.

And it’s not just Labor that has expressed concerns over the proposed levy hike. The Greens and Nick Xenophon are also worried about how a Medicare levy hike will affect lower income earners.

The Coalition wants the Medicare levy increase to be universal, meaning that low-income earners would also have to foot the bill.

The Prime Minister used a sizable chunk of question time in Parliament yesterday to attack Labor for its “shameful abdication of responsibility”, saying that the party wants to accept credit for the establishment of such a bill, but was unwilling to pay for it.

“The Opposition Leader was prepared to win the plaudits from advocates for people with disability, to get the thanks from parents of disabled children but then not pay for it,” said Mr Turnbull.

It has been reported that Labor’s decision to only back the higher levy for people with incomes over $87,000, instead of including singles earning over $21,000 and families with an income just under $40,000, was not unanimous.

The decision was largely agreed upon by Labor leadership during budget week, but not by the shadow cabinet. There are reports that the majority of the shadow cabinet think the party should back the universal rise in the levy.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter reminded Bill Shorten that Mr Shorten himself was a staunch proponent of the plan only a few years ago, saying that if the Coalition didn’t back the 0.5 per cent increase, it would regard “getting into power as more important than your life”.

“So we now say to you, leader of the opposition, all of us say to you, if you do not support this 0.5% increase, you need to look into the face of people … and you need to say: “I regard me as getting into power as more important than your life”,” said Mr Porter.

Bill Shorten hit back, and called on the Government to maintain the temporary deficit levy on high incomes and remove the company tax cuts, which cost $65 billion over 11 years.

“I’ve got a really good idea for Mr Morrison and Mr Turnbull – don’t give millionaires a tax cut from 1 July,” said Mr Shorten.

“Don’t give large banks and large corporations a reduction in what they pay. This is a government who is taking people with disabilities hostage in saying there is only one way to fund it.”

Opinion: Labor needs to pick its battles

Bill Shorten may have a good point, after all, why should low-income earners – those who can least afford it – foot the bill rather than those who can better afford it?

Yes, the Coalition should be looking at extending the Temporary Budget Repair Levy to help fund the NDIS, and it shouldn’t be giving tax breaks to millionaires. However, Mr Shorten should pick his battles wisely.

This is somewhat of a political crossroads for the Opposition Leader. Certainly, the Coalition could be accused of political plagiarism – taking a Labor Party initiative and calling it their own. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and Mr Shorten could capitalise on the fact that the Coalition has taken a Labor Party policy and run with it.

This is no time to dig in and start a political squabble. Fighting a trench war while people with disabilities sit in ‘no-man’s land’ is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a very savvy political move.

One of the reasons that Labor has a six-point lead in Newspoll is that it is a party undivided that does the hard yards and creates intelligent policies. Labor has been a party of solidarity and has, in the past, definitely capitalised on the Coalition’s constant party splits and leadership squabbles. This alleged ALP division gives ammunition to the Coalition to finally fire back and drive a wedge into Labor.

We all know what Mr Shorten is trying to do. He’s looking out for the battler. He’s playing minder to those who are doing it tough. But the Coalition has him on the back foot here. Mr Shorten needs to take credit for the conception of the plan and support the proposal. Keep pushing the Coalition’s predilection for millionaire tax breaks and backing big business at the expense of the average Australian, but don’t use people with disabilities as leverage for scoring political points. He should support the proposal and move on to the next skirmish.

Do you think a universal Medicare levy hike is fair? Should the Government extend the Temporary Budget Repair Levy to help fund the NDIS and other budget measures? Do you think any Australian has a problem supporting people with disabilities? Is this a battle Bill Shorten can win?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca is a voracious reader who loves words. You'll often find him spending time in galleries, writing, designing, painting, drawing, or photographing and documenting street art. He has a publishing and graphic design background and loves movies and music, but then, who doesn’t?

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96 Comments

Total Comments: 96
  1. 0
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    Low income workers have had no raises in ages therefore to ask them to pay anything is wrong! Thank goodness someone has their backs!

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      Its called the National Disability INSURANCE Scheme. Since when is it possible to get insurance without a premium being payable? All are at risk that at sometime they may unfortunately have to call on the NDIS for assistance. Is it any different to income protection insurance?

      Perhaps only those earning over $87,000 should pay house insurance for everybody, or life insurance. The nonsense spoken about fairness by Shorten is that he considers that it is fair for one group to pay 80% of the cost of this insurance. That does not sound like fairness to me.

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      @Sceptic. I agree. Everyone has an obligation to make a contribution to the scheme, even aged pensioners, and welfare recipients. Just dock them, say, 1.5% each pay day not a lot to ask is it!! To keep “biting the hand that feeds them” will end in disaster. Eventually all the talent will leave Australia and who then will pay? We already have a progressive income tax system and far too many are not paying any tax after all the excessive Government allowances.

  2. 0
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    One is going to enjoy reading all the supporting posts of, and for Shorten/Labor using the disabled, to play grubby Labor politics with!

    • 0
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      Well Turnbull isn’t playing politics?? If Turnbull actually governed and taxed the “untaxable” mates of his the multi-national tax avoiders Australia would be in a much better position, we could afford NDIS, TAFE and GONSKI (mot the feeble Mk2) So come out of the mud wipe your eyes and attempt to see clearly! Difficult for you and your pal OG I know

    • 0
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      Oh Placid you forgot to mention we could all go on a six month holiday every year as well with so much money that has not been collected. WOW.

  3. 0
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    Labor have had no credible method of funding NDIS. It is logical that NDIS should be funded by an increase in the Medicare levy. It also stands to reason that all working Australians would want to make a contribution toward the health and safety of the disabled.
    It’s time for Bill Shorten and his union mates to stop playing politics and tribal war games, and just do what’s best for all Australians for a change.

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      Surely it is Turnbull playing politics with this. A different perspective on things here Frank.
      One thing that badly needs to be looked at is the use of Trusts to minimise tax but don’t expect the LNP to raise that issue as it appears a significant number of sitting LNP members have a family trust. A small number of ALP members also have such a setup.
      Message – don’t hold the breath.

    • 0
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      I would agree that at some point the political parties need to do what is best for Australians & if all working Australians have to fund NDIS then so be it, people with disabilities need to be supported.

  4. 0
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    As a former Coles driver, I know exactly how Labor and the unions look after workers. The EBA they dished up resulted in penalty rates of half the award rates. Have not heard a word from Bill, his appointed Fair Work Ombudsman or the union involved in the debacle.

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      Times move on Poppa, people are starting to realise that the population of Australia is entitled to an equal share of all that is produced, at least all those who work, and we care about our sick and older folk and our children, like human societies the world over.
      Unions went over the top, now the rich are over the top, complaining about unions will not help control the greed of the rich, but no unions will mean the exploitation by the rich of everyone else, and it is happening right now.
      The unions had some corrupt leaders, but now almost every rich person is terminally corrupt.
      Balance !

    • 0
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      @Lookfar, communism seems to be more up your street. Well that is what you will eventually get unless everyone, absolutely everyone has an obligation to make a contribution. Tax everyone from the first dollar at a flat rate ,no income bands. Most people in Australia pay little or no income tax, yet expect someone else to pay for the services they use.

    • 0
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      What used to annoy me when I was working we would pay our Union fees, go to meetings lose money by striking if we had to for our pay increases and better working and safety rights, but when it came to the non union members, the ones who complain about unions, they were always very happy to put their hand out for the pay increases and better working conditions.

    • 0
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      Yes Misty, the bludgers are always more than willing to take what others work and pay for. Then they suck up to the bosses and tell them how they are not part of the Union and how much they dislike them, all the time taking the pay increases and benefits that others have worked for.

  5. 0
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    Frank, it does not stand to reason that as the gap between rich and poor widens daily that the rich get tax cuts and the poor pay for the NDIS, History shows that the more a society becomes unequal, the more it is likely to collapse, and when a society collapses, the rich die along with the poor, as happened in Rome. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800914000615

  6. 0
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    Placido, here are some facts
    The ‘Anti Avoidance Bill’ will amend current tax laws with penalties of 40 % for avoidance. Facebook and Google are now paying tax on profit generated in Australia and the A.T.O.is negotiating with 80 multi nationals to restructure in order to pay tax here, in addition to that the A.T.O. has placed staff in 30 multi nationals and employed over 1000 staff to deal with the issue. The issue isn’t fixed however the wheels are in motion.
    From where I sit high up in my treehouse your post is uneducated dribble

    • 0
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      The treehouse with no leaves, the only moisture dribbling from your mouth, when Apple and their ilk pay reasonable tax on profits generated here I wll believe that there has been substantial improvement.

      Transfer pricing is also still thriving. Free education up there in the treehouse?

    • 0
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      Placido, you’re just singing the party song. Google pays tax in Ireland because it would be a lot less than they would pay here.
      In Australia we have states stupidly competing with each other by offering tax and other incentives for businesses to move in. We are well and truly part of a global economy. Other Countries are way ahead of us. Our higher franking credits are attractive but where’s the benefit for a future Australia?

  7. 0
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    As the NDIS is meant to be a universal scheme it is only right that the funding of it is also universal.

    I am fed up with those who put their hands out for money for free (ie from me & mine & yours) but don’t, ever, want to contribute – always aided and abetted by the latte sipping, lefties and ex union thug bosses amongst us.

  8. 0
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    I am not sure of my facts, but I am sure someone will be able to give an explanation, I am under the impression that low paid workers get an exemption from the Medicare Levi, is this correct? I have also seen many comments about giving tax breaks to wealthy people, and an equal number of people complaining that the wealthy don’t pay any tax, so if the wealthy don’t pay any tax what is the point in giving them a tax break, does that mean they can actually claim tax back that they haven’t paid. Confused. Just as an aside, how many people who use this site have ever in their life had a job done cash in hand, isn’t that tax avoidance, no gst paid and no income tax paid on some or all of the cost.

    • 0
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      Dim, there are two issues, 1/- who is poorer, sure the really really poor don’t pay much, but the folk who really work hard in the workforce now, but are getting less and less, pay the biggest share of tax, – as the rich pay almost none. 2/- the rich don’t need tax breaks but they find it easier if they don’t have to lie so much when they are assessed as owing less, and also some rich do pay tax, so all rich club together on various isues, its sort of a religion, called neo-Liberalism, such a destructive human aberration, – oh well, hopefully they will all feel togetherness in the Tumbrills, on their way to Madame Guillotine, but by then our world will be buggered.

    • 0
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      Two opinons from the converstion, 1/-The article boldly states: “giving a CEO one, two or three million dollars might motivate them. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will work any harder if offered four, five or six million” BUT it does not question why pay CEO 1,2 or 3 million in the first place? NOR it questions why such ludicrous pays have become the norm in today’s businesses?

      Yet these are important questions and it would highlight BOTH the fallacy of the neo-liberal cry “pay peanuts, you get monkeys” and how to recover from it.

      Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is well known with esteem and self-actualization occupying the pinnacle of human needs. Maslow never linked money to motivation, so where did we get the idea that paying CEO zillions will improve their performance?

      Does research support that today’s CEOs being paid 300 times the average salary performs better than CEOs in the 70s when CEOs salaries were 30 times that of average salaries? Do today’s CEOs perform 10 times better than their counterparts in the 70s? My money is that they perform as well, if not poorly, than the CEOs of 50 years ago.

      So, if performance hasn’t increased, why are CEOs today so better rewarded for their work than 50 years ago? Did the CEOs of 50 years ago have different human needs than today’s CEOs?

      I dare to suggest that CEOs motivation, risk profiles, decision making abilities and work load have remained similar over time. In other words there appears to be NO CLEAR justifications why today’s CEOs should be paid at a rate 10 times higher than they were in the 70s OTHER THAN A SINGLE FACTOR: GREED!!

      And we, the voters, have allowed that greed to grow and grow. HOW?? We have allowed governments after governments to lower the TOP MARGINAL TAX RATE. In 1970 the top marginal tax rate was 66.7%, by 1982 it had dropped to 60%, in 19882 it was down to 49% and by 2006 it was down to 45%, today’s rate.

      The impact of this is that considerably more of CEOs pays end up in their pocket than it used to, and our progressive taxation flattens out once you go over $1M, e.g. @$1M taxable income the effective tax rate is 42.3%, @10M the effective tax rate is 44.7%.

      In other words, our taxation system ENCOURAGES GREED!! The perverse nature of lowering marginal tax rates means that GREED is rewarded, i.e. if for the same effort you can manage to double, triple your already inflated salary then you simply INCREASE your wealth and STARVE the company of funds to invest and/or distribute to other employees.

      Unless GOVERNMENTS recognise that their taxation policies are fueling GREED and are prepared to step in and change this behaviour, we shall continue to see CEOs and other senior management transfer firms profits into their own wealth INSTEAD of investing these funds for more productive activities.

    • 0
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      Lookfar, we can talk about Maslow’s theories and how they relate to a modern workforce or we can talk about how we fund the NDIS?
      Very rarely does anyone get overpaid except perhaps in the Public Service. Where is the value in overpaying someone?

    • 0
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      Fran that is exactly what Lookfair has said, where is the value in overpaying someone.

    • 0
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      Sorry for the spelling errors above I am in a hurry.

    • 0
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      Lookfor for whats its worth in my experience CEO’s are paid very well (or overpaid) to ‘motivate’ the tier below them who in turn ‘motivate’ the workers. Do they work harder than previous CEO’s 50 years ago? probably not, they just work meaner & smarter.

      Will we change greed? probably not, its the super wealthy that pull the strings & they to a very large degree directing our government (whichever party is in power)

      Now all of that has nothing to do with NDIS. So, I do believe we should to all contribute to the NDIS because if we don’t we are not going to get help to the people who need it.

  9. 0
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    This budget appears to have stolen a lot of Labor’s policies and because of that Shorten should have said that he supported a lot of the budget and stayed away from those areas where there was an apparent duplication. I believe that Shorten has made himself a target by his own party because of his response to the budget. The last thing Labor, or the Coalition for that matter, needs is dissension within the party and that may be why Albanese has spoken out against some of Shorten’s statements. The media has pounced on Albanese and accused him of seeking the leadership but I believe that Albanese is doing what he has done to heal any perceived rifts within Labor.

    • 0
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      Hi Old Man, I think that Shorten was selected as someone who could stand up to that arrogant s..t Abbot, but Abbott got kicked out, but because the media has had such a success of raising ratings by carrying on breathlessly about ‘regime changes’ neither the Labor party is willing to subject itself to the change to Albanese, (seems to be better but how would I know?) nor the Libs to whoever may suit them better, – Bronwyn? – Fear of the Media..

    • 0
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      As the saying goes ‘ a change is good as a rest’

  10. 0
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    As self funded retiree we have reached the limit as to what we can out lay about time some of the Multinationals who are ripping off the country paid their way but it will not happen under this Government. Frank do you really think the Multinationals raping this country are paying their fair share of tax be real.

    • 0
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      floss, I never mentioned anything about multinationals.
      To answer your question though. You are talking about non Australian companies operating in Australia? This is a complex field and requires global co-operation. Our best chance of getting a result is through the efforts of a coalition government. They have already made some progress.
      Labor has shown very little promise in any commercial negotiations internationally. Their only trade deal after 6 years in government was with Chile. Which had a negative effect on Australia’s balance of trade. Perhaps it was a trade off for BHP to set up there? I don’t know?
      At the moment our biggest company (which is a multinational so far (don’t know what’s going on with Billiton etc?)) is BHP and surprise, surprise it is our biggest taxpayer. Who would have believed??
      LOL
      If we stall NDIS on the basis of waiting for a result with a “multinational tax” then it may never happen. Why would you want that floss?
      NDIS is part of our national health care program and should be funded by people who are already paying the Medicare levy.

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