“We can do better than this,” said Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten when he rose in the House to respond to the Turnbull Government’s Federal Budget 2018.
Mr Shorten went on to say that the Prime Minister is out of touch, by making cuts to education, health, pensioners and raising the retirement age to 70, while supporting a $17 billion ‘giveaway’ to big banks.
Labor, the Opposition Leader maintains, has a plan to “bring the fair go back into the heart of our nation”.
“It’s a plan we can afford by not spending $80 billion on big business and big banks so we can look after the real forgotten people: working families, pensioners and all Australians doing it tough because of flat wages, rising power bills and increasing health costs.”
He then went on to state that a Labor Government would do “better” on tax cuts for middle Australians, with 10 million workers to pay less income tax each year. In effect, they would be on average $928 better off a year. He contrasted the Labor tax cuts with those promised by Treasurer Scott Morrison on Tuesday night which, Mr Shorten claims, will see $6 out of every $10 going to the wealthiest 20 per cent of Australians.
Other aspects of Mr Shorten’s reply included what he called a real wages policy, with a restoration of Sunday penalty rates and a focus on abuse of labour hire practices, pay equity for women, tax cuts for small business, plus a better NBN and new health imaging for regional Australia.
He also emphasised the need to pay down our national debt, faster, as it has doubled under the current Government, reaching $21,000 for every man, woman and child, and will cost $18 billion in interest in 2019.
Labor will also create a federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), which Mr Shorten described as a national integrity commission. He called the planned Budget cut to Australian and Investments Commission (ASIC) funding a disgrace, given the “pathology of exploitation” revealed in the Banking Royal Commission. A Labor Government will give $25 million to the public prosecutor to follow through on the work of the royal commission.
School funding is also high on the Labor agenda, with a reversal of cuts Mr Shorten claims the Coalition Government has made to schools and reversing the freeze on university funding, which represents 10,000 fewer places next year. Training was also emphasised with less reliance on skilled visa workers, and 100,000 fee-free TAFE places.
And finally, it was the “world’s oldest retirement age” that drew Mr Shorten’s ire, stating this would not be supported by a Labor Government, and that “giving older Australians the security and dignity they deserve is worth more than an $80 billion tax cut” to corporates.
What do you think? Is this really a fairer deal for all? Or is it a tit for tat tax cut election spend?