Australia

Labor's costings promise bigger surpluses, sooner

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Labor is promising to deliver the budget surplus goal of 1 per cent gross domestic product four years earlier than the Coalition.

Releasing its own costings on day 30 of the election campaign, Labor has promised to deliver bigger surpluses each year as well as cumulatively when compared to the Coalition. 

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and finance spokesman Jim Chalmers outlined Labor's costings on Friday, showing budget savings of $154 billion over the next decade.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said further tax relief beyond what Labor had already promised could be provided when the budget is back in healthy surplus.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said further tax relief beyond what Labor had already promised could be provided when the budget is back in healthy surplus.

"We can deliver these bigger budget surpluses and the bigger investments of health and education while also assuming tax relief going forward," Mr Bowen said.

Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten have little more than a week to convince undecided voters that they can be trusted to deliver on their promises and ease the cost of living.

The costings show a return to the black in 2019/20, as well as a surplus of 1 per cent of GDP by 2022/23.

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Election 2019: The political careers of Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten
Election 2019: The political careers of Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten

Mr Bowen said the budget surplus goal of 1 per cent of GDP (A$21.7 billion) will be delivered under a Labor government four years earlier than the Coalition. 

He said a Labor government would deliver tax relief when the tax to GDP ratio reaches the target set by the Howard government of 23.4 per cent.

"We will provide tax relief when it is prudent to do so - when we are back in healthy surplus. We will do that in the responsible way of being able to assess economic circumstances at the time."

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and Shadow Minister for Finance Jim Chalmers on a run outside parliament house in Canberra.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen and Shadow Minister for Finance Jim Chalmers on a run outside parliament house in Canberra.
AAP

Five areas of tax reform - dividend imputation, negative gearing and capital gains tax, trusts, multinationals and accountant deductions and superannuation concessions - will raise $154 billion over 10 years.

The money will go towards bigger surpluses as well as a raft of election promises, including better funding for hospitals and schools, the Medicare cancer plan, cheaper child care, a pensioner dental plan, roads and rail projects and tax cuts for 10 million workers.

Best manager of the economy claims challenged

Finance spokesman Jim Chalmers said the costings challenged claims by the Coalition of being the best manager of the nation's economy. 

"What we're doing today is exposing what is arguably the biggest lie of this entire campaign. That is that the Liberals have done a good job of managing the economy. Of all the many lies they have told, that is arguably the most significant one.

"Saying that the Liberals have done a good job managing the economy is like saying Clive Palmer did a good job of building a dinosaur park."

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Watch: How are you coping with the cost of living?
Watch: How are you coping with the cost of living?

'Bigger surplus is prudent'

Mr Bowen defended the size of the budget surplus as prudent for the macro economy because of the planned impact of Labor's policies. 

"I also talked about the impact of consumption on our bigger tax cuts for low-income earners. The propensity to spend a tax cut if you're a high-income earner is pretty low. If you're a low-income earner and you get tax relief, you suspend every dollar. That impacts on the economy.

"Same as childcare subsidies, and those hundreds of thousands of families that are better off under us. That's money they can spend and stimulate the economy."

The figures show Australia's overall tax take will be lower than comparable countries such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany and Canada.

Bill Shorten and Labor MP Mark Butler
Labor is unveiling its policy costings on Friday, showing it expects to make budget savings of $154 billion over the next decade.
AAP

Labor's budget bottom line incorporates a technical working assumption that tax receipts do not rise above 24.3 per cent of GDP over the medium term.

Liberal campaign spokesman Simon Birmingham said 1989 was the last time Labor delivered a budget surplus.

"Many Australians today are going to hear the Labor Party claiming that Labor will deliver bigger surpluses and they will see pigs flying through the sky," he told Nine's Today.

PM criticises Labor's costings

In central Queensland, Prime Minister Scott Morrison moved quickly to discredit Labor's costings. 

"There is something very fishy about Labor's figures. There is something very fishy about Labor's ability to manage money," he told reporters in Rockhampton. 

"Labor will tax you more, and they will spend you more."

Mr Morrison is trying to shore up the Coalition's credentials for supporting miners by vowing to spend $30 million on a new School of Mining and Manufacturing at CQ University.

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Josh Frydenberg and Mathias Cormann respond to Labor costings
Josh Frydenberg and Mathias Cormann respond to Labor costings

The announcement will help people in the seat of Capricornia, which LNP MP Michelle Landry holds on a very narrow margin of 0.63 per cent.

Labor's Russell Roberston is seeking to win the electorate back, after Labor lost it in 2013.

The seat of Flynn held by the LNP's Ken O'Dowd by 1.04 per cent will also benefit.

Additional reporting: AAP

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