Budget 2018

Labor won't commit to future income tax cut 'two or three elections down the track'


Budget 2018: Labor is gearing up for a fight on income tax, committing to back Scott Morrison's first round of tax cuts due to take effect this year but not the government's plan to lock in a future cut in 2024.

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The Labor opposition has agreed to back the first round of income tax cuts in the 2018 Budget that would kick in on July 1, but has slammed the government for chasing a further round of cuts "two or three elections down the track" in 2024.

Treasurer Scott Morrison announced tax cuts of about $530 a year for income tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners.

But the government will try to pass a bill - which will be introduced to parliament today - that combines the immediate cuts with a future tax cut in 2023 and 2024. 

The later reform will remove the entire 37 percent tax bracket, which has substantial flow-on benefits for high-income earners. 

"They want us to have a debate about a possible tax cut in the year 2024. That's two or three elections down the track," Labor leader Bill Shorten said. 

"We all know Malcolm Turnbull will not be around to have to face up to keeping that promise."

Treasurer Scott Morrison said the 2018 Budget would make personal income tax "fairer and simpler" and said governments had a responsibility to plan into the long-term future. 

"In this budget, we are providing tax relief to encourage and reward working Australians and reduce the cost pressures on households," Mr Morrison said. 

"Tonight I announce a seven-year personal tax plan to make personal income tax lower, fairer and simpler. The plan will result in more working Australians paying lower rates of tax. It will be enshrined in legislation."

The Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison delivers his third budget.
The Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison delivers his third budget.

Mr Shorten accused Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of choosing the "top end of town". 

"All the worst of Turnbull's cuts are still in this budget - the cuts to schools, the cuts to hospitals, and the cuts to pensioners," Mr Shorten said.

"Every budget is about choices. Yet again, Turnbull has chosen the top end of town – and he’s making you pay for it."

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen said the "unfair" budget locks in corporate tax cuts at the expense of struggling Australians, and the government has given up on paying down the national debt.

"Labor will back the personal income tax measures that begin on July 1 this year, and we'll have more to say in the future about how else we'll help working people," Mr Bowen said.

"This is an overdue relief, but it doesn't make up for Turnbull's cost of living increases and cuts to penalty rates.

"Most of this package is off in the never-never - it's a hoax for Mr Turnbull to tell people they have to vote for him at least two more times before they get tax relief in 2024."

Mr Bowen said even with $40 billion in extra tax revenue, the national debt was spiralling and would remain above half a trillion dollars for another decade.

"This is a government that has given up on what we were told was the debt and deficit disaster," Mr Bowen told the ABC.

Mr Shorten will deliver his budget reply on Thursday. He is expected to have more money to spend thanks to Labor's proposed changes to negative gearing, dividend imputation and capital gains tax.

"We'll have budget repair as a central element, unlike, it appears, this government," Mr Bowen said.

Greens to fight Morrison

The Australian Greens plan to fight the federal government's budget tax cuts all the way to the next election.

Leader Richard Di Natale made the threat after Treasurer Scott Morrison delivered his third budget to parliament on Tuesday.

"This is a tax plan that will turbocharge inequality in Australia," he told reporters in Canberra.

"It's a tax plan that means someone on two hundred thousand gets a tax break ten times someone on $40,000."

Senator Di Natale said instead there should have been more money for schools, hospitals, and measures to tackle climate change instead.

"This is the budget that gives the middle finger to anybody that cares about a safe and stable climate in Australia," he added.

The Greens leader challenged Labor to come out against Mr Morrison's "cruel" tax cuts.

"We'll be fighting this all the way to the next election."

The government has announced a three-stage plan to modestly lower taxes over seven years, starting this year with low to medium salary earners.

Most of the reductions will be in the form of offsets and threshold changes to head off bracket creep.

But by 2024/25, 95 per cent of taxpayers will be paying a marginal tax rate of 32.5 per cent or less

- with AAP

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