Truth in politics is something that every voter wants but rarely receives. It’s an ancient problem, undoubtedly, but one that is probably on the minds of most Australians as they prepare to cast their votes in the 2019 federal election.
From big fat lies, like the Coalition’s ‘carbon tax’ in 2013 and Labor’s ‘Mediscare’ in 2016, to everyday campaign spin and duelling memes on social media, it can be challenging for voters to find the truth on issues that matter to them.
So every Saturday until polling day, we’re bringing you Spin Class, a quick rundown on some of the week’s election lies and evasions to help voters learn the facts.
Is Bill Shorten planning a ‘death tax’?
No. The Opposition’s existing policies do not include any form of death duties or an inheritance tax, which the government has re-framed as a ‘death tax’.
According to the PM, Scott Morrison: “The Greens are up for death taxes. Even [Labor’s] Andrew Leigh is up for death taxes, let alone the union movement.”
The Coalition claims that a Shorten government would be forced by the Greens into introducing an inheritance tax in return for the minor party’s helping to pass Labor’s proposed changes to taxes and other laws.
However, the Greens told AAP FactCheck this week that while the party did not object to the concept of death taxes in principle, it was not a policy they had adopted for this federal election.
Similarly, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) said it supported Labor’s tax policies, which do not include ‘death tax’ even though its tax policy argues that “consideration should be given to taxing inheritances”.
The Labor shadow minister who once supported inheritance taxes, Andrew Leigh, has also made it clear that he changed his mind on the issue many years ago.
Has the Coalition cut $14 billion from public schools funding?
No. After the federal budget earlier this month, Labor’s Deputy Leader and education spokeswoman, Tanya Plibersek, argued that, “Before the 2013 election, the Liberals promised no cuts to education. But after the election, they cut $14 billion from schools”.
Labor makes it sound as if the Coalition took $14 billion from money that the schools already had, or that they would provide less funding than in the years before.
However, the incoming government of Tony Abbott at the time continued to fund schools according to Labor’s Gonski plan from 2014 to 2018, increasing the amount for both public and private schools each year.
The Turnbull and Morrison governments also increased education funding each year, but committed to $14 billion less than the Gillard-Rudd government promised before being defeated in 2013.
As the ABC’s Fact Check said when examining this point, “Something cannot be taken away if it was never given in the first place”.
The fact-checking service further explained: “We deemed the statement to be misleading, primarily because at the time it was comparing the hypothetical spending projections of the current government to a hypothetical spending proposal by the previous (Labor) government.”
Is renewable energy cheaper than coal-fired electricity?
It depends. Electricity produced by existing coal-fired power stations is cheaper than renewable energy. However, if you are looking to build a new power station of any kind in Australia, the power produced by a new wind or solar farm will be cheaper than power produced by a new coal-fired power station.
That’s without battery storage, but the costs of batteries are also dropping rapidly. Energy experts expect the cost of electricity from solar farms using battery storage to soon drop to the same level as gas-fired power.