News Election 2016 Labor targets families
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Labor targets families

Changes to family tax benefit will reap $2.1 billion over a decade.
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Families on more than $100,000 will lose half their annual bonus payment under a Labor change-of-heart to family tax benefit cuts.

The opposition has backtracked on its resistance to cuts to the yearly family tax benefit Part A supplement, committing to slashing the $726 bonus.

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That will save $505 million over the forward estimates and $2.1 billion over a decade.

The policy has similarities and differences to the coalition’s, which aims to reduce the supplement before abolishing it entirely.

The coalition plans to cut the Part A supplement to $300 and Part B to $153 in July 2017 before phasing it out entirely.

The reversal could be a tough sell for Labor, which has consistently railed against cuts to family payments.

Opposition families spokeswoman Jenny Macklin was one of the harshest critics of the coalition’s legislation, criticising how it would leave families worse off.

Labor has also reversed its opposition to higher education changes.

The opposition on Friday announced it would tie the higher education indexation program to the consumer price index.

Graduates will also have to pay back debt sooner, with the threshold for study loan repayments being reduced from $54,126 to $50,638.

In the same press conference, Labor said while there was nothing wrong with seeking natural therapies, it said taxpayers won’t be subsidising them if Bill Shorten becomes prime minister.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen announced on Friday that from July 1, 2017, taxpayer-funded private health insurance rebates would no longer be available for natural therapies.

The measure would save $180 million over four years, and $704 million over the decade.

Mr Bowen was quick to insist there was nothing wrong with seeking natural therapies like aromatherapy, herbalism or iridology.

“I myself use them from time to time – my personal favourite is the Bowen treatment, I can recommend it to you,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“But in times of difficult budgetary situations, it is not appropriate for taxpayers to have to fund and subsidise private health insurance cover for these treatments.”

The measure is part of a suite of cuts Labor announced on Friday.

Mr Bowen also announced Labor would continue the threshold freeze for private health insurance rebates for another decade to 2026, saving $2.3 billion.