Australia

Albanese says confusion about where Labor stands on tax is the media’s fault

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Anthony Albanese has blamed the media for any public confusion about the last-minute decision by Labor not to oppose the government’s $158 billion tax package.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has denied capitulating on tax policy, blaming the media for “misrepresenting” Labor’s decision to vote in favour of the government’s three-stage package.

The passage of the $158 billion tax package in the first week of the new Parliament is a major win for the coalition government and has left some voters confused about Labor’s position.

But Mr Albanese said that confusion is the fault of the media, not his.

Labor decided not to oppose the government’s the tax package on Thursday night, despite arguing for weeks that stage three was unaffordable and would result in cuts to services.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese insists Labor never opposed tax cuts.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese insists Labor never opposed tax cuts.
AAP

Mr Albanese became frustrated on Friday morning by questions from the Parliament press gallery about the last-minute back down.

“You got to follow the play. People here shouldn’t be confused if you actually follow politics,” Mr Albanese said, referring to Canberra journalists.  

Labor failed to get support for its amendments to bring forward stage two and shelve stage three, but Mr Albanese said his party never opposed the tax cuts. 

“The fourth estate frankly have to do a little bit better at examining what's happening rather than what editors sitting in an office somewhere think is happening because we never did that.

“We never said we would. What we said the whole way through was we supported stage one. Guess what, that's the only thing that is happening this term.”

entre Alliance senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff and independent Senator Jacqui Lambie (centre) celebrate the end of the first sitting of Parliament.
Centre Alliance senators Rex Patrick and Stirling Griff and independent Senator Jacqui Lambie (centre) celebrate the end of the first sitting of Parliament.
AAP

Embarking on a lengthy description of parliamentary procedure and votes in the House of Representatives and the Senate, Mr Albanese attempted to explain Labor’s parliamentary tactics.

“I’m just trying to help. I’m here to help. The way that parliament, the way laws are made, it’s important that people look at them, rather than look for a story that is not there.

“There’s some people who haven’t paid attention at all. The votes in the parliament that occur on legislation are on the second reading, that’s where it’s determined if a bill happens. The third reading is a procedural issue effectively."

The Leader of the Opposition Penny Wong reacts during debate in the Senate at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, 4 July, 2019. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)
Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Penny Wong during debate on tax cuts on Thursday afternoon.
AAP

The legislation would have passed with or without Labor’s support after the government secured the vote of four out of the six crossbenchers.

Mr Albanese maintains stage three of the tax cuts - which would lower the tax rate from 32.5 per cent to 30 per cent for workers earning between $40,000 and $200,000 in 2024 - are unaffordable and would result in cuts to services.

But he said Labor put the need for short term economic stimulus ahead of those concerns.

“You can’t argue the economy’s tanking and then say it doesn’t need any stimulus at all. We argued it needed more stimulus. We wanted more tax cuts to more workers sooner. Pretty simple.”

Mr Albanese would not say whether his party would repeal stage three if elected at the next election, saying the party’s policies would be determined in the context of the economy at the time.

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