Key topic: Labor’s wavering commitment to keep ‘stage 3’ tax cuts
Good morning, everybody
At the last election, the Australian people were told by Anthony Albanese that regardless of who you voted for, the Coalition’s tax cuts would be delivered in government.
Anthony Albanese said:
“And one of the things that I’ve done is to be upfront with people. I want to make sure we don’t create circumstances whereby there’s a view that we’re going to do things that we’re not going to. We are not going to interfere with the legislated tax cuts.”
He also said:
“Well, it’s legislated, of course. And stage three of the tax cuts begin at $45,000. If you’re earning $45,000 a year, that’s not rich. You’re struggling to get by, given the increase in rent and housing affordability issues which are there.”
Well said Anthony Albanese!
In July 2021, not much more than a year ago, Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers said in his statement, the Shadow Cabinet and caucus have today confirmed that Labor in government will uphold the legislative changes to personal income taxes and maintain the existing regimes for negative gearing and capital gains tax. They said Labor is providing certainty and clarity to Australian working families. After difficult two years for our country and the world, they confirmed that in this press release just over a year ago, they voted for this tax relief in the parliament.
This is tax relief that millions of Australians were promised, millions of Australians are expecting and millions of Australians are owed. This is not a some in Labor are saying about the top end of town. For people earning $45,000 to $120,000 a year, this is about reducing the tax on your next dollar from 32 and a half cents to 30 cents. For those earning more than 120,000 but less than 180,000, it’s about reducing your tax burden the tax on your next dollar from 37 cents to 30 cents.
And yes if you’re having a go, you have a family, you’ve got a big mortgage and you work 60 to 70 hours a week and you earn $200,000 your tax bill is also going down 30 cents on your next dollar. But let’s be very clear that tax relief, for people earning $45,000 is a core part of these tax cuts. Before the election Albanese said as much. Labor want to disproportionately focus on and demonise those earning a good income. It’s a return to the class war rhetoric we saw in 2019. And if they want to stand around in Sydney, where I’m standing now and tell people that they earn too much to deserve the tax relief they were promised, then they should say that.
But where is the Prime Minister? We see background briefings. We see press conferences from Chalmers, we see the B team coming out, but where is Anthony Albanese? He was joking about Botox on FM radio yesterday. He’s been to Midnight Oil concerts. Well today why doesn’t he go and talk to some people in the industries around here and ask them how they feel about paying less tax and whether they’re happy for Labor to break their central promise.
This is the worst possible time for Labor to equivocate on providing tax relief because mortgage payments are going up again, grocery bills are skyrocketing, power bills are climbing and climbing and you’ll recall that Albanese promised to cut your power bills are $275 on 97 separate occasions before the election. It’s a fundamental breach of faith with the Australian people. Denying them this much needed tax relief will breach that faith again.
We’re in a cost of living crisis. Australians are staring into the abyss. 2.5 million Australians are relying on tax reliefs that has been promised and even more than that are relying on the $275 cut to their power bills.
We said it wouldn’t be easy and Albanese and as these broken promises stack up it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Labor is making a bad situation worse.
And I just want to finish on one point in relation to constituents affected by any broken promises here that I’ve talked about in the seats that are held by Independents. We need to hear from the members of Wentworth, North City, Mackellar, Kooyong, Goldstein and Curtin. We need to hear from them. They were very active in lobbying the Government discussing publicly where they stood on issues around the integrity commission. That’s a good thing. I thank them for their work but where are they on this issue?
The stage three tax cuts are just as important to the people they represent as the integrity commission. These members are it to their electorates to be accountable for the work that they are or that they’re not doing on this issue. Are they lobbying the Treasurer? Are they lobbying the Prime Minister? Can they find the Prime Minister? Have they had meetings? Or they’re running dead on this issue? It’s not enough to tell their people where they stand on this and brief comments to the press. But what they are doing about it is what we need to hear. We saw a lot of joint press conferences on the integrity commission when we see one on the stage three tax cuts?
Do you agree with your colleague Simon Birmingham’s comments about Teena McQueen (inaudible)?
Look, the loss of any Liberal MP in an election is a cause for concern. We need more liberal MPs to be elected to form governments. That’s the basic arithmetic of how the body politic works. I’m not going to go into the comments that were made over the weekend. I’m not going to give them any more publicity. I’m not going to give them any more credence. I’m not going to elevate them one little bit.
Should she resign from the Party’s executive?
I’m not going to elevate those comments, one little bit.
But don’t those views fly in the face of the message voters sent the Liberal Party at the election that more moderate views and policies are needed.
As I said, the loss of any Liberal MP is something that we need to turn around. But I’m not going to dignify those remarks with a response or elevate them beyond what I’ve already said.
Ms Ley, you will have seen the reports today about the Assyrian community members of Western Sydney around Fairfield who are deeply concerned by the government’s plan to repatriate people who went and joined or supported family members to be part of the ISIS caliphate in Syria and Iraq. What is your sense of the of the wisdom of this plan to bring these people back should that be done and what do you say to the Assyrian community members out there who are now deeply concerned that people associated with the group, that drove them from their homes here to Australia are now going to be resettled as well in Australia?
All I’ll say is, once again, the Prime Minister needs to step up. The risk of terrorism demands a serious response from this government. Now for the Assyrian community it is just not good enough that they woke up that they saw on the front page of their newspaper descriptions that appeared to come out of government viewpoints that suggested that families that they had fled from, their tormentors in the Middle East were going to be allowed safe passage to Australia, at what cost?
This is not a question of compassion. It’s a question of keeping Australians safe. And while it pains me to see any child or any family in difficult circumstances, we have to acknowledge the real risk of radicalisation, and we have to listen to our security experts.
Now, I think it’s starting to show that Anthony Albanese wasn’t on a national security committee of cabinet while he was in the last government and maybe he doesn’t understand exactly how these things work. You don’t need the Australian people to find out about this in a way that then has zero follow up from the Government in terms of answering the questions that those reports immediately demand answers to. How is this going to work? What have the security agencies said? What will be the effect on the very sensitive Assyrian community, who we have given refuge to, who would be alarmed by the fact that their tormentors cannot make their way to this country. What does it cost? How will it be managed? And again, we’ve heard zero from the Prime Minister.
The National Skills Commission shows Australia is facing a huge shortage of skilled workers, they are blaming the Liberal migration caps for that. So, what do you think the Federal Government should be doing and how would you like to respond?
Well, it’s just over a month from the much vaunted Jobs and Skills Summit, and we’re yet to see any meaningful progress on skills shortages. Three things the Government refused to pick up, first our Pension and Veteran Workforce Boost. If they had done that. We could have started to see older Australians take up positions in businesses that are crying out for Labor. I’ve been in the west of my electorate in far and far west, Western New South Wales. And it’s exactly the same there. As it is in the inner city of Sydney. Everyone says to me, great idea why isn’t it already happening? Of course, it’s been talked about by the Government, but it’s not happening.
The second thing is the cyber workforce grants that could have been training cyber workers since May, particularly with the issues associated with Optus last week. We saw the Industry Minister has sidelined workforce grants that would have trained people to deal with cyber security.
And only yesterday the Productivity Commission told us that the Albanese Government’s Free TAFE policy will waste taxpayer dollars. Because it isn’t just about pumping money into TAFE. It’s about using the private industry led training providers, who actually understand the skills needs. So, all of these things demonstrate that since the Jobs Summit, and leading into the Jobs Summit, there has been no action, and leading out of a Jobs Summit there has been even less.
Just back on ISIS, just to be clear, would the Coalition not have repatriated the ISIS people that the Albanese Government is doing right now, are you accusing Anthony Albanese of going missing in action?
The Prime Minister is completely missing an action on this issue, because real questions have been raised and need answers. I don’t have access to the security briefings. Peter Dutton spoke about this yesterday. He had a security briefing and while obviously not touching on that, expressed alarm and concern. Where is a strong statement from this Prime Minister, that the number one job that he has now is always to keep Australians safe, regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, certainly with respect to proposals that have come from obviously the Government but have not answered the real questions Australians have about their own safety and security.
We were very strong on this when we were in government. We very much understood the danger and the damage that radicalisation can do to young people who unfortunately, have been in circumstances where that may well have already happened. This is information our security agencies have. This is information presumably they’ve given the Prime Minister, it’s now up to him to reassure and to explain, and to actually demonstrate that this is a sensible thing to do. From where I’m standing it doesn’t look sensible at all.
The Prime Minister is meeting with Manasseh Sogavare today, I just wanted to ask you welcome that meeting and is Anthony Albanese managing to do something the Coalition didn’t do in terms of having open talks with the Solomons.
Of course, we welcome the meeting as we welcome Prime Minister Sogavare’s presence in Australia and the dialogue that will result from that. But remember the first place that Scott Morrison visited after becoming Prime Minister [after the 2019 election] was the Solomons. And I also recall that during the campaign, Anthony Albanese and Penny Wong were very sharp in their criticism of how we in the Coalition handled this vital relationship, and as the burdens of Office reach them, it’s clear that they’re learning more and more about how complicated these matters are. But of course, we welcome Prime Minister Sogavare’s presence in Australia and the dialogue that will shape from that visit.
Can I also ask her about the Essendon Football Club. Peter Dutton has called on it to reappoint Andrew Thorburn. I just want to ask, where do you stand on this? Should someone’s religious affiliation affect their professional position?
Well, I’m very conscious that football and politics probably don’t mix in terms of interfering in the business of the Essendon Football Club. But the views that have been expressed by a pastor of a church in question are absolutely disgusting [references to concentration camps.] They are disgraceful. They are to be condemned, and I distanced myself and the Coalition from them entirely. But I also think that we’re getting into dangerous territory when a person can’t do a job because of something that’s been said, or actions that have been taken by someone else in an organisation that they’re part of. In Australia, we have freedom of speech and we have freedom of religious Association.
Sorry to jump between topics, but another one just popped into my head in response to your comment before on Manasseh Sogavare. He criticised the fact Australia offered to help fund their national elections. Do you think today’s meeting is a sign that those issues have been resolved and that’s water under the bridge?
I have absolutely no idea what today’s meeting will cover. And I certainly welcome Prime Minister Sogavare to Australia, as I’ve said, because dialogue is important. But it is worth pointing out that during the campaign, while the now Prime Minister and then our Foreign Minister were very, very critical of our management of the relationship with the Solomon Islands. They have stepped into a certain amount of hot water themselves with their management of the relationship. And I hope the dialogue is strong and positive today.
Anyone reading those comments [references to concentration camps] would draw I believe the same conclusion that I have. And while this is principally a matter for the Essendon Football Club, and they’ve dealt with it in the way that they have, I think there are alarm bells ringing around whether the fundamental tenets of freedom of speech and freedom of religious association in Australia are pushing us into, or not allowing a sensible view of this matter, so the comments themselves [references to concentration camps] on any reading were disgraceful and disgusting.
However, it is a dangerous territory where a person can’t do a job because of something that’s been said in an organisation that they happen to be part of that they haven’t said or agreed with themselves.