Shorten escalates the fairness fight

A fairness fight has broken out post-Budget 2017 with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten declaring the Turnbull Budget “fails miserably to emulate Labor policies”.

Mr Shorten’s speech was pre-empted by the news that the hotly debated $50 billion company tax cut will actually cost $65.4 billion in the 10th year. So it was a confident Opposition Leader who faced the House last night to deliver his party’s verdict on Treasurer Scott Morrison’s plans. He led with the context that the coalition has ‘wasted four years’, with wages growth at record lows, and under-employment and casualisation of the work force at record highs. “It fails the fairness text, is an admission of guilt and a war on young people”, he declared.

So what does Labor support? The levy on the banks has full support, with a caveat that it was up to the Turnbull Government to ensure none of this tax is passed on to consumers. “If the banks pass on a single dollar of this tax to Australian families, then that should be the end of this Treasurer, Prime Minister and this government”, Mr Shorten challenged.

This is problematic to say the least, with Ian Narev, head of the Commonwealth Bank, this morning declaring the levy will be passed on to customers or shareholders as there was no way to absorb it.

Labor will also continue to call for a Royal Commission into the banking sector, another point of difference with the Coalition.

Labor will only support the increased Medicare Levy for the top two tiers of taxpayers (i.e with incomes above $87,000 per annum), and make up the shortfall to fund the NDIS by retaining the deficit levy for higher income earners.

In education, Labor will oppose changes to HECs funding, including higher fees and lower payback thresholds and will invest $22 billion that it claims that the government has stripped out of the Gonski reforms.

Reduction of negative gearing incentives and capital gains tax concessions remain on the table, with an expected $37 billion worth of savings as a result. Mr Shorten was scathing about the Treasurer’s ‘super savings’ plan for young homebuyers, describing it as “microscopic assistance for young people, with the $565 per home not even covering the cost of removalists”

Chasing multinationals who offshore tax which should be paid in Australia was another target, as were the 48 Australian millionaires who paid no tax at all.

In summary, the Opposition Leader once again claimed to ‘own’ the issue of fairness for all, stating:

“Fairness is not some slogan you can borrow.  Fairness is not measured by what you say – but what you do”

What do you think? Does redrawing the lines on who pays a levy on Medicare and retaining the Budget Deficit Levy for higher income earners make a difference in your life?

Written by Kaye Fallick

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