Inquiry into franking credit policy being scrutinised

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The Labor Party’s proposal to rescind the current imputation cash refund system is once again the topic of the day. But in a somewhat bizarre twist, it is the parliamentary inquiry established to test public response to this policy that is now under scrutiny.

The taxpayer-funded inquiry is officially titled An inquiry into the implications of removing refundable franking credits.

It was established by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics in September 2018, purportedly to review the impact(s) of Labor’s proposed changes to franking credits. At the time the committee chair, MP Tim Wilson stated:

“There has been legitimate community concern about proposals to remove cash refunds for their full allocation of credits for individuals and superannuation funds, and that it amounts to a tax on the savings of retirees.

“The committee is examining what impacts the removal of refundable franking credits would have, particularly on retirees who have made long term retirement saving decisions based on their ability to claim refunds on their franking credits and whether it will compromise their financial security.”

In itself, such an inquiry is highly unusual as parliamentary inquiries have rarely been used to interrogate opposition parties’ proposals. Some would argue that they never should be. And although the term ‘retiree tax’ has been used as shorthand for this reversal, it is not a tax, but a reversal of a cash payment.

Fast forward to February 2019 and many meetings have been held, allowing interested parties or those who feel they may be affected by these changes, to share their views.

But it appears that this taxpayer-funded inquiry has not been following the parliamentary rules in at least three different ways.

According to Katherine Murphy at The Guardian, it seems that, as chair of the parliamentary committee, Mr Wilson has drafted proforma submissions to this inquiry, which he will later assess, while wearing the chairman’s hat, as evidence. During hearings, membership forms for the Liberal Party have been distributed. And a distant relative of Mr Wilson, who is leading the charge opposing the policy, has been allowed to coordinate his group’s protests with sittings of the inquiry. As Ms Murphy opines, at the very least this is an egregious breaking of parliamentary conventions for political gain and reinforces the public perception that politicians cannot be trusted.

In another update, Fairfax journalist, Eryk Bagshaw, claims that the Coalition has used this inquiry to fundraise for the Liberal Party, with Liberal MP Jason Falinski offering access to committee chair Tim Wilson in exchange for a donation to the party. Furthermore, in the electorate of Goldstein, voters were invited to a meeting with Mr Wilson at $220 per head. 

At the time of writing, Labor’s Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, was calling for Tim Wilson to stand down from the inquiry, while Treasurer Josh Frydenburg stated on ABC Radio National that Tim Wilson had adhered to the rules.

It seems the election campaign has definitely begun.

What say you? Is this inquiry a sham? A political witch-hunt? Or is it a legitimate use of taxpayers’ money to shed light on an important possible change to retirement income?

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Written by Kaye Fallick

606 Comments

Total Comments: 606
  1. 0
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    I would not expect any thing different from an LNP member

    • 0
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      I expect nothing different from Labor. Went the heat gets too much they go to desperate extremes.

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      Yes, OG. For once I agree with you. This inquiry has put them under the microscope and clearly they don’t like that it is revealing how sloppy and ill-conceived their policy is.

    • 0
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      Labor thought they could slip this tax grab in under the radar.

    • 0
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      I think they forgot to do the homework and under estimated the number of people holding franked shares who would be affected. They thought it would just be a few rich people.
      Unfortunately picking on smallish minority groups seems to be the policy of both Parties.

    • 0
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      Has anyone seen the full policy statement?

    • 0
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      Trebor, the full policy has not been released.

    • 0
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      cupoftea: what has come out is as fake as the Liberal Party itself. First Wilson is related to the so called revolt group. Second is the wealthy vested interests driving this debate and the links to the current government.
      I suspect this issue has some way to go and that Shorten will be forced to make amendments AS HE SHOULD. I personally have no objection to Labor bring this in as long as low income retirees are not put to the sword. Shorten has several options. He can put a threshold in place after which the credits reduce to zero or he can top up low retiree incomes up to pension level.

      What Shorten has to fess up to is if he intends to savage self funded retirees who are NOT wealthy or high income earners or if he wants a fair Australia. Anything else may be seen as jealousy towards those who have funded their own retirements and have amassed a few assets to do this. Given how most retirees came by these it is clearly not fair to ignore the sacrifices people made to get to that slightly better place in life.

      Shorten may want to give this some thought as he may well lose the unlosable election. Boomers are not exactly a small group and from what I have read on this website a number are going to vote with their feet. Stupid politics Bill. Stop looking in the mirror and end this madness!

    • 0
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      MICK boomers are not the only ones who buy into funds or shares instead of lotto and lottery and horse races or footy match score competitions. It’s just that shares are more consistent payers. All those I see at the local club or newsagent lining up for that regular flutter could have had a portfolio of shares if they had chosen that instead of putting the money onto pure chance.
      Younger people seem to prefer buying investments rather than gambling to try to win.
      I’d like to see the demographic breakdowns for this Investment we boomers are supposedly doing.
      If Labor get this wrong then yes they will lose.
      Something bad may be coming as it appears both Parties are bent on losing the next election. Neither seem to be making sound decisions or taking experienced advice. I did read the Credlin gutted the Senior Advisory Service so that could be the problem.

    • 0
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      MICK boomers are not the only ones who buy into funds or shares instead of lotto and lottery and horse races or footy match score competitions. It’s just that shares are more consistent payers. All those I see at the local club or newsagent lining up for that regular flutter could have had a portfolio of shares if they had chosen that instead of putting the money onto pure chance.
      Younger people seem to prefer buying investments rather than gambling to try to win.
      I’d like to see the demographic breakdowns for this Investment we boomers are supposedly doing.
      If Labor get this wrong then yes they will lose.
      Something bad may be coming as it appears both Parties are bent on losing the next election. Neither seem to be making sound decisions or taking experienced advice. I did read the Credlin gutted the Senior Advisory Service so that could be the problem.

    • 0
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      MICK boomers are not the only ones who buy into funds or shares instead of lotto and lottery and horse races or footy match score competitions. It’s just that shares are more consistent payers. All those I see at the local club or newsagent lining up for that regular flutter could have had a portfolio of shares if they had chosen that instead of putting the money onto pure chance.
      Younger people seem to prefer buying investments rather than gambling to try to win.
      I’d like to see the demographic breakdowns for this Investment we boomers are supposedly doing.
      If Labor get this wrong then yes they will lose.
      Something bad may be coming as it appears both Parties are bent on losing the next election. Neither seem to be making sound decisions or taking experienced advice. I did read the Credlin gutted the Senior Advisory Service so that could be the problem.

    • 0
      0

      MICK boomers are not the only ones who buy into funds or shares instead of lotto and lottery and horse races or footy match score competitions. It’s just that shares are more consistent payers. All those I see at the local club or newsagent lining up for that regular flutter could have had a portfolio of shares if they had chosen that instead of putting the money onto pure chance.
      Younger people seem to prefer buying investments rather than gambling to try to win.
      I’d like to see the demographic breakdowns for this Investment we boomers are supposedly doing.
      If Labor get this wrong then yes they will lose.
      Something bad may be coming as it appears both Parties are bent on losing the next election. Neither seem to be making sound decisions or taking experienced advice. I did read the Credlin gutted the Senior Advisory Service so that could be the problem.

    • 0
      0

      MICK boomers are not the only ones who buy into funds or shares instead of lotto and lottery and horse races or footy match score competitions. It’s just that shares are more consistent payers. All those I see at the local club or newsagent lining up for that regular flutter could have had a portfolio of shares if they had chosen that instead of putting the money onto pure chance.
      Younger people seem to prefer buying investments rather than gambling to try to win.
      I’d like to see the demographic breakdowns for this Investment we boomers are supposedly doing.
      If Labor get this wrong then yes they will lose.
      Something bad may be coming as it appears both Parties are bent on losing the next election. Neither seem to be making sound decisions or taking experienced advice. I did read the Credlin gutted the Senior Advisory Service so that could be the problem.

    • 0
      0

      MICK boomers are not the only ones who buy into funds or shares instead of lotto and lottery and horse races or footy match score competitions. It’s just that shares are more consistent payers. All those I see at the local club or newsagent lining up for that regular flutter could have had a portfolio of shares if they had chosen that instead of putting the money onto pure chance.
      Younger people seem to prefer buying investments rather than gambling to try to win.
      I’d like to see the demographic breakdowns for this Investment we boomers are supposedly doing.
      If Labor get this wrong then yes they will lose.
      Something bad may be coming as it appears both Parties are bent on losing the next election. Neither seem to be making sound decisions or taking experienced advice. I did read the Credlin gutted the Senior Advisory Service so that could be the problem.

  2. 0
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    Of course it’s a scam. There suppose to be no other country doing the franking scam, only us. It was put in place in the Hawke/Keating govt, to stop businesses and wealthy from paying double tax, temporarily,but Costello changed the rules.

    • 0
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      So it’s OK to give back $34 billion to high income earners and take $6 billion form low income earners.

      I agree Labor’s policy is a scam and a very unfair one that will hurt the vulnerable. It’s nothing but elder abuse on a grand scale.

    • 0
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      It’s NOT a scam, srs21. Clearly you have no idea how it works, much less any understanding of the huge economic benefits. Leading economists credit the policy with reducing the impact of the GFC, such that Australia was less badly affected than any other country. Sometimes, it’s good to be different.

      Now as to your rubbish claim of a scam —- you think low income earners should pay 30% more tax than is due on their income if, and only if, they (1) invest in good Australian companies to drive economic growth; and (2) support themselves in retirement and don’t demand handouts from the taxpayer or earn a low income?

      How is it a ‘scam’ to refund overpaid tax? Is it a scam if a worker or businessman pays too much PAYE or PAYG tax and claims a refund of the overpayment? Is it a ‘scam’ if the bank mistakenly takes withholding tax from your interest payment and you claim it back?

      Joe, Tom and Jack both have shares in ANZ Bank. ANZ bank pays them both a dividend, but it takes 30% of that dividend and sends it to the ATO before paying them. Now, Labor claims that somehow Joe, who earns $200,000 a year salary, and Tom, who has $6 million in super, paid 30% of their dividend in tax and entitled to a reduction of their income tax accordingly, but Jack, who is retired with just $750,000 invested and an income of $37,000 a year to support himself and his wife, should forfeit the 30% tax taken from his dividend – effectively paying 30% tax on a legally non-taxable income. The fact that that reduces his income to less than $30,000 a year and he therefore decides to spend $100,000 on home renovations and claim a part OAP – costing the nation more – is of no concern to the Labor Party or their misled supporters. They can’t think past swallowing the lies their favoured politicians tell hook, line and sinker.

      Yes, Costello changed the rules – TO MAKE THEM RIGHT AND FAIR to low income earners.

    • 0
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      You are quite correct in your argument, Old Genuine Rainey. One can also add the case of the person (such as my wife), too young to get a pension and earning a less than taxable income. Her savings have been taken out of term deposits that were earning almost nothing and put into shares in companies that have franked dividends. Now the ALP want her and people like her, to NOT get that franking credit paid to her, the tax that was paid by the company on her behalf. Yet another shareholder the same company has huge holdings, earns way above a taxable income and will get paid that franking credit by means of reducing that person’s tax bill. There is certainly no logic and no equity in that, is there. Yet some people are saying that people who do not have a taxable income are not entitled to those franking credits. It’s downright appalling and a gross discrimination against people on low incomes. But of course such people don’t count in the eye of either major party, do they.

    • 0
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      They certainly don’t Alexii. Both Parties colluded to change Centrelink eligibility to groups of people based on false assumptions recently. It seems to be becoming a bad habit.
      The people affected did as asked or compelled and then had promises revoked quite unfairly and with no recourse in some cases. Disadvantaged by legislation which had always been something Australian Governments had tried to avoid. I fear there is no honour left amongst politicians. Perhaps the odd one can see past propaganda and try for fairness. Those honest ones really have no power though do they?

    • 0
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      OG – your normal nonsense. Your LNP government introduced tax cuts for the wealthy, not Labor. I hope Shorten introduces a bill to kill off these tax cuts as they are blatant right wing handouts to those who do not need them at a time when average Australians are at breaking point. If you don’t accept that then wait until interest rates go up 2%. No more belt tightening possible and there’ll be a heap of keys left on the kitchen table and banks asking for bail ins (money stolen from depositor accounts). Coming!

    • 0
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      OnlyGeniuneR is wrong in his assertation dividends are taxed. They are not. Dividends are paid out of net earnings ie after company tax has been paid. Imputation offsets that part of the company tax paid against personal income so it is not paid twice BUT tax is still paid by the company. Franking credit is a payment to those who have structured their incomes to pay no tax and is a $5bn transfer to them of company tax paid. Why should this group get a $5bn subsidy rather than many other equally worthwhile groups in the community?
      For retirees genuinely in need it might be better put into increased pensions. This would be much fairer.

    • 0
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      Only a very few left wing supporters agree with shortens big tax grab from retirees. Whats with you Mick, didn’t you invest in secure companies and therefore don’t get any tax imputation credits. Or maybe are you just on a secure government pension that is automatically increased every year.

    • 0
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      Retired, explain to me how a tax from dividends is not tax and not to be refunded to someone with no taxable income, but is tax and to be credited to someone with ample other income to live off and not in need of a tax refund?

      And why should pensioners get taxpayer-funded handouts but the self-supporting – many of whom live on less than the pension – get nothing and lose 30% of their dividend income?

      Why aren’t you screaming that Shorten and his mates who claim $34 billion in tax credits – for tax taken from dividends and paid to the ATO EXACTLY the same as the tax taken from my dividends – should give up their ”largesse”.

      Sorry, you are DEAD WRONG MATE. You are subscribing to a hypocritical lie designed to benefit the rich – because all the bloody wealthy keep their benefit under Shorten’s filthy policy. Well of course! Wouldn’t want Shorty, Bowen or their rich mates paying more, would we? Just bash the struggling self-funded retirees who are saving the nation tens of thousand a year and tell huge lies to turn the pensioners, who live on taxpayer money, against them. Labor stole the pension I worked my guts out and paid tax for 40+ years to earn, and now they want to steal my savings as well.

      No doubt you live off the taxpayer, Retired? Like so many other GREEDY SELFISH pensioners who share the Communist view that what is theirs is theirs and what is mine is theirs also.

    • 0
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      Retired, you really need to research a topic before posting gibberish. Perhaps get your carer to explain Imputation Credits.

    • 0
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      Retired my dividend statement tells me how exactly much tax I have paid on that dividend. If you have franked credits you have paid tax as that is the only way you can get franked dividends. Stop peddling that Labor rubbish as it make you look like a fool.

    • 0
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      personally not affected by changes to franked dividends as I do pay tax every year.

      however, I think it is unfair that shareholders in a company who pay tax through their shares should have their cash refunds taken away because they personally do not pay tax.

      dont vote for shorten!

  3. 0
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    As a self funded retiree this is absolutely a legitimate use of taxpayers money and well done to Tim Wilson.
    And, just look at all the leftie journos and pollies crawling out of the woodwork to say otherwise – condoning a most discriminatory outrage against both current and future retirees.
    In particular, future retirees who already have their retirement plans in place will be very hard hit.

    • 0
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      Not a Bludger most leftie journos and pensioners don’t know what a franking credit is and think they are missing out somehow

    • 0
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      Not as hard hit as retirees locked into annuities when the LNP changed all the rules. No changing anything for them nor getting their money back to start again.
      At least you can sell down shares or rebalance allocations or just splurge and then get a part pension and concession cards.

      I must admit it is pretty stupid to hit a lot of the same people twice. Obviously nobody else has any money they can get hold of. The Country is up to it in debt and none of this nonsense is a good idea with a recession looking likely.

    • 0
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      Christmas 2020 is going to be a bad one for everyone.

    • 0
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      Yes OG it certainly is. It will be a real shock to those who haven’t seen a recession or a real banking crisis.

  4. 0
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    The question put above ‘is the enquiry a sham’ , yes on the basis of the reports given by Karen Murphy on Eryk Bagshaw. The credits are not a tax but a reversal of a cash payout and its original intent was changed. Therefore it needs to be redone. However there is a difficulty for those who have developed their retirement financial plan on its basis. I hope that this is taken into account if and when there are changes. I also hope that sef-funded retirees havent solely relied on this strategy and had the good sense to have diversity in their portfolios.

    • 0
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      So it’s OK to give back $34 billion to high income earners and take $6 billion form low income earners.

      Shame on you.

    • 0
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      Deborah, you have obviously swallowed the Labor Party’s BS.

      The ARE a refund of tax paid that wasn’t owed. Study the system a little before you make silly claims. Jack, Joe and Tom all have shares in ANZ and all receive the same dividend. ANZ correctly deducts 30% of the dividend and sends to the ATO.

      According to you, and Labor Party politicians, Jack (who earns $200,000 a year) and Joe (who has $6 million in super) should be recognized as having paid that tax and credited accordingly – reducing their tax bill. But Tom, who has only $750,000 invested but total assets of just over the pension threshold, should have to forfeit the 30% tax taken from his income. How was his payment NOT tax, if Jack and Joe’s WAS tax. That makes no sense at all!

      Labor is lying to push a sloppy, ill-conceived and very harmful policy. Even the OECD has condemned it as dangerous and harmful policy.

      Thank goodness the opposition to it is apparently worrying Labor. They need to drop this rubbish and take a more responsible approach to addressing the budget deficit and finding money for schools and health. They are being LAZY. There are plenty of better options.

    • 0
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      Jeez, Deborah – not only do you not understand Shorten + thug union mates hitting self funded retireees (everybody else including companies, super funds etc get the full benefit of franking credits to reduce their tax liability and get a refund if credits exceed tax liability) as a narrow group – how much discrimination and denial of equity would you prefer – and your Murphy and Bagshaw are just plain wrong, but that is how they try to earn a quid, is it not.

  5. 0
    0

    It is disgraceful. Using taxpayer funded committee to offer a platform to disgruntled taxpayers to criticise an opposition policy. Then seek to sign up people to Liberal Party and fund raise. As it is reported too that there are no witnesses just a town hall meting for people to express opinions this is a disgraceful misuse of public funds. An ethical government would close this committee down.

    • 0
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      Well they are taxpayers.

    • 0
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      An ethical politician wouldn’t tell the blatant lies Shorten and Bowen have told to win support for a very bad policy.

    • 0
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      OnlyGenuineRainey writes: “An ethical politician wouldn’t tell the blatant lies Shorten and Bowen have told …” Can you tell me what some of those lies are?
      Ta.

    • 0
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      Just have a read of Labor’s website as the lies fly out everywhere to greet you.

    • 0
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      I know I’m a silly old duffer, OG, but I looked at the website and I can’t tell what’s a lie and what isn’t. Can you please tell me some of the lies?
      Thanks.

    • 0
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      Well, it’s a lie to say Labor’s FC policy targets people with more than $2.4 million, because it hits hardest at those with just over the assets test limit and struggling on low incomes.

      It’s a blatant lie to say the Franking Credit cash refund is ‘a scam’ or ‘a rort’, because it’s a perfectly legitimate and fair refund of overpaid tax – and Labor admits that high income earners and the wealthy should get a credit for the tax taken from their dividends, but then says low income earners should be overtaxed unfairly.

      Oh, and they lie about how much their FC policy can save, because they are using 3-year-old outdated data and major reforms in the past two years have changed the landscape dramatically.

      Given their arrogant refusal to discuss their FC policy I think they lie about it being aimed at economic benefit. I think it’s 100% political. They hate self-sufficiency. They want to control, and to do that they need to get more people reliant on welfare. Self-funded retirees threaten their plan to dominate.

      That’s just a couple of a myriad of lies, ghoti. Labor is renowned for them. But I sympathize with you, because unfortunately for this nation, they are quite good liars and a lot of folk believe them.

    • 0
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      Oh, and there was the lie that some folk are getting tens of millions in cash FC refunds and paying no tax. NOBODY gets a refund unless they paid tax that wasn’t payable. The ATO is NEVER going to give money to someone who didn’t pay them more than was due. And to get mega-millions in FC refunds, one would have to have mega-millions invested in shares. If anyone that rich is declaring no taxable income, then investigation and remedy is needed. Cancelling franking credits for struggling retirees on low incomes is NOT a valid solution.

  6. 0
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    Of course this is another LNP scam use of taxpayer money for their own benefit. Both major parties do things like this but this time the LNP has been caught red handed.

    • 0
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      So it’s OK to give back $34 billion to high income earners and take $6 billion form low income earners.

      Shame on you.

    • 0
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      OG, you are repeating yourself!
      LNP would be proud of you arguing their wrongs but you are probably paid though!
      Logic goes out the window with you when you defend something that is so obviously biased and not innocent by an involved participant.
      There are many retirees who are happy to forego this money preferring it to go to their grandchildren and great grandchildren’s education.

    • 0
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      So it’s OK to give back $34 billion to high income earners and take $6 billion form low income earners.

      Shame on you.

    • 0
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      Why don’t you forgo some of your ridiculously high pension Paddington for your grandkids education etc. I know you are on a full pension and have a low I Q , but surely you don’t believe what the Labor party takes will go to education, it is going straight to union coffers.

    • 0
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      For once, Paddington, I agree with Robbo. Give up some of your damn pension. It’s free money, handed to you by battling taxpayers who you want to steal from. And it must be damned generous, because apparently Misty can afford to spend $20,000 on vet bills for animals over 18 months. That’s about as much I’ll have to live on for a year if Labor gets its selfish way.

      Fund education with YOUR money instead of stealing from people who don’t get the handouts you enjoy. I’ll forego income when all those who spend more freely give up THEIR taxpayer-funded handouts and live on the piddling income you selfish Labor-supporters demand I should be reduced to.

      I save the government about $50K a year. I’m dam well ENTITLED to fair taxation.

    • 0
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      Pension is bought and paid for – no comments on people’s intelligence please – such comments make you look stupid.

      Try answering the question instead.

    • 0
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      Pension is bought and paid for, Trebor? I paid for BOTH pension AND my savings, but Labor has stolen my pension, and now it wants to steal my savings as well, and Paddington supports that theft. If he’s not lacking intelligence, then he’s an accessory to theft – which is criminal. I’d rather give him the benefit of the doubt.

    • 0
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      Bought and paid for Trebor and no one should have to justify their entitlement!

    • 0
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      And SFRs bought and paid for it to, but not only are they denied, selfish Labor supporters want them ripped off with unfair taxes as well and left with less than most pensioners enjoy. But of course selfish Labor supporters choose to ASSUME that SFRs are all wealthy and pensioners are all poor – to justify their Robin-Hood-in reverse greedy grab. Always wanting someone else’s money taken to give them more. No respect for others and not the slightest bit of interest in anyone else’s welfare, much less in fairness.

    • 0
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      And SFRs bought and paid for it to, but not only are they denied, selfish Labor supporters want them ripped off with unfair taxes as well and left with less than most pensioners enjoy. But of course selfish Labor supporters choose to ASSUME that SFRs are all wealthy and pensioners are all poor – to justify their Robin-Hood-in reverse greedy grab. Always wanting someone else’s money taken to give them more. No respect for others and not the slightest bit of interest in anyone else’s welfare, much less in fairness.

  7. 0
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    Dave R all political parties look to leverage where ever they can. But not all political parties use a parliamentary committee paid for by taxes to do so. This is not standard practice and it hasnt been done ethically. That is the issue here.

    • 0
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      Not all political parties threaten the harm Labor is threatening, and tell the lies they are telling to try to justify their evil. Somebody had to expose them. I notice they didn’t arc up until it started to hurt them badly. They are running scared, and so they should be.

  8. 0
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    This inquiry is obviously a scam. I sincerely hope that in the near future more ethical practices can be re introduced to the political discourse in Australia

  9. 0
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    Labor setting its attack dogs onto Wilson does not alter the fact that Labor will regret its unfair retirement (and negative gearing) tax policies.

    Labor has already spent in promises the $billions it anticipated from the new taxes. Shorten and Bowen have told the affected public to suck it up.

    Old people don’t vote Labor they believe, echoing Julia Gillard’s contemptuous referral to the aged when she was PM and Shorten and Bowen were her ministers. Where Shorten and Labor have such hubris now, how will the old fare if Labor gets in with a large majority and promises to the Greens to keep?

  10. 0
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    Gee Labor must be hurting to go to such desperate measures.

    • 0
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      Labor has zero integrity

    • 0
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      Desperate measures – I’d say that shoe was on the other foot… using taxpayer funds to travel about spruiking your party line is pretty desperate.

    • 0
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      No complaints from Labor until it started to hurt, Trebor. But yes, Wilson is scared – and rightly so. All intelligent Australians are very scared of the harm Labor will do if it gets this policy across the line.

    • 0
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      labor does not know how to budget and handle money…we have seen that in the past. easier to tax people.
      we all know Labor like to spend, spend, spend. watch the defit increase even more if they get in.

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