Shorten grilled on negative gearing and franking credits on Q&A


Opposition Leader Bill Shorten defended Labor's plans to scrap negative gearing on some properties and end cash refunds on franking credits.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten has been grilled about his party's planned changes to negative gearing and franking credits during a special episode of ABC's Q&A. 

If elected on 18 May, a federal Labor government would scrap negative gearing on investment properties from 1 January in 2020, except for newly-constructed houses. 

Bill Shorten appeared on Q&A with less than two weeks to go before the May 18 election.
Bill Shorten appeared on Q&A with less than two weeks to go before the May 18 election.

Negative gearing allows property owners to claim rental losses as a tax deduction. 

Speaking in front of a live studio audience in Melbourne, Mr Shorten insisted that the changes were not tax hikes, but the removal of tax subsidies. 

"You use the word tax. If I'm not giving you a subsidy for you making a loss on an investment property, that ain't a new tax. It just means you're not getting a new subsidy," Mr Shorten said.   

The Opposition Leader was also confronted by a man who said he would lose 20 per cent of his income as a result of Labor's plans to limit franking credits. 

Mr Shorten said it was a "gift" paid for by millions of working Australians. 

While Labor has tried to focus on health during the election campaign, its come under pressure to explain how it will pay for its policies. 

Asked to detail the cost of its climate policy, Mr Shorten dismissed it as a "dumb question".

"You can't have a debate about climate change without talking about the cost of inaction," he said.

"There is a cost. The bushfires, the extreme weather events, the insurance premiums." 

Indigenous suicide a 'national emergency'

During the hour-long session, Mr Shorten also declared Indigenous suicide is now at the level of a national emergency.

The Labor leader said Australia needs to redefine its relationship with its indigenous people from one of indifference or paternalism to a true partnership.

"I think it's a national disaster, (a) national emergency," he told ABC's Q&A on Monday night.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten.

"The issue of suicide is massive. But also the issue of our first Australians and the inequality of the lives that many of them live is massive. There's an intersection."

He noted both his party and the coalition had committed to a range of suicide prevention projects, particularly ones aimed at young people, during the lead-up to the 18 May election.

But, he said, Labor also had a unique idea to help make sure indigenous people received holistic solutions: making an indigenous man, Pat Dodson, the minister.

"Sometimes we judge ourselves by how many billionaires we have on the Forbes Rich List," Mr Shorten said.

"I have a view we should judge ourselves by if we have a great disadvantage."

Mr Dodson spoke at Labor's campaign launch on Sunday, releasing the party's plans for working with indigenous people.

These include creating a system of regional assemblies and a Voice to the national parliament, establishing a national Makarrata commission and local truth-telling programs, building a national resting place for the unknown warriors, and giving justice and compensation to survivors of the stolen generation.

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