Shorten Claims Class Unfairness in Budget Reply

Bill Shorten has criticised the Federal Government’s budget, claiming its policies “fails the fairness test” in his budget reply speech.

The Opposition leader said the Coalition’s budget released on Tuesday did nothing for families’ cost of living and was a budget of big government, higher tax and more debt.

Mr Shorten used the speech to claim the budget favours millionaires over middle income earners, claiming it was “proof the Liberals frozen this nation and hurt our economy.”

“Labor cannot support making people on modest incomes give up more of their pay packet, especially when this budget goes out its way to give taxpayer money to millionaires and multinationals,” he said.

He said independent costings showed his plan would deliver more revenue than the government over the medium term without burdening families earning moderate incomes.

Mr Shorten said Federal Labor will not support the Medicare levy increase for Australians earning less than $87,000 a year, saying they will only support the government’s 0.5 per cent increase in the top two tax brackets.

The Coalition wants to increase the levy for almost all Australians, resulting in a person earning $55,000 pay $275 a year while someone earning $75,000 a year pay $375.

The money would be put towards fully funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

Mr Shorten has also committed to keeping the Coalition’s budget repair levy on high income earners, as well as supporting a $6.2 billion tax on the major nation’s banks.

“Labor won’t stop the Liberal’s new tax on the banks, but we are deeply skeptical of a banking culture that takes every opportunity to hit customers with higher fees and charges,” he said.

However, he said the Coalition would need to accept responsibility if banks passed the costs customers.

“If the banks pass on a single dollar of this tax to Australian families, then that should be the end of this Treasurer, this Prime Minister, and this government,”Mr Shorten said.

The Labor leader confirmed the Opposition would not support the Government’s efforts to increase housing affordability, instead continuing to call for changes to negative gearing.

The government wants to allow first home owners to salary sacrifice up to $30,000 into their superannuation, allowing them to save for home deposit faster.

It also wants a $5,000 penalty for foreign investors who vacate their properties for a least six months at a time.

The treasurer ended the two per cent budget deficit levy, temporarily introduced in 2014 to help balance the books, but Labor has argued it is not time to remove the levy.

Labor believes it is because the 2017-18 deficit is set to become 10 times worse than the Liberals’ first budget predicted.

Mr Shorten also said Labor would cap the amount people would be able deduct for tax affairs management at $3000 to stop people exploiting holes in the tax net.

Labor would also introduce laws against people who “aggressively minimize tax by hiding money in offshore tax havens.

The party would be opposing funding cuts to universities and increases in student fees, while also committing to restoring $22 billion he says was taken from schools and $600 million from TAFE.

However, the opposition would not support putting $170 million aside for a same-sex marriage plebiscite, the party claiming the parliament should “get on with making marriage equality a reality in Australia.”

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Mr Shorten should release the costings for his announcement, claiming his promises would increase the deficit.

“He needs to come clean with people about how much bigger the deficit will be as a result of these announcements,” he said.

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