Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will use a speech on Thursday to accuse the Turnbull government of “yelling about an NDIS emergency” while also hitting back against “doomsday warnings” from the Prime Minister on Labor’s tax plan.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister told the economic think tank CEDA that Labor’s plans for a 49.5 per cent top marginal tax rate would stifle aspiration in Australia.
But in a speech to the same think tank on Thursday, Mr Shorten will argue the opposition’s policy to keep the Abbott-era deficit levy on high income earners is part of a “more progressive” tax policy, according to excerpts of his remarks seen by The New Daily.
“The Prime Minister says our plan is against aspiration, effort, determination, you name it. He thinks it’s a tax on success. That speaks volumes for how he looks at the world – measuring success by the money you earn,” he will say.
Government ministers have accused Mr Shorten of hypocrisy for opposing a universal increase to the Medicare levy to fund the NDIS, given the previous Labor government had done the same in 2013.
Noting low wage growth and stagnating living standards, Mr Shorten will defend that move on Thursday by saying that the nation’s economic circumstances have changed. He will also accuse the government of scaremongering over the future of the scheme.
“In 2014 the government banged the drum of ‘Budget Emergency’ to try and justify its massive cuts to family support and services. Now they’re at it again, yelling about an ‘NDIS emergency’,” he will say.
The government is “trying to spread anxiety among people who rely on the NDIS, as an excuse to increase the taxes working people pay”, according to Mr Shorten.
While the government plans to increase the levy by 0.5 per cent for all workers, Labor believes it should only apply to those who earn above $87,000.
But given Labor also plans to retain the deficit levy on high income earners, the government has already begun to portray Labor’s tax plans as punitive.
In response, Mr Shorten will accuse the Prime Minister of selling out those workers who may never be high income earners.
“There are a lot of meaningful, valuable jobs – held by successful people – that will never be in any danger of earning over $180,000,” he will say.
“Labor will not ask people who already spend every dollar they earn – and then some – to make another sacrifice, while millionaires get a hand-out.
“There is no economic logic to hitting demand and confidence again by hitting the millions of Australians who earn less than $87,000 with a tax increase.”
He will also reject claims from a number of Coalition MPs that the opposition’s tax plan would mean “every second dollar” of wealthy Australians’ income going to the government.
An Australian who earns $200,000 will pay an average tax rate of 34.1 per cent under the 2017 budget, compared to 34.3 per cent under Labor’s plan, Mr Shorten will argue.
“I find it hard to believe this will herald the end of Western civilisation as we know it,” he will say.
In his speech on Wednesday, Mr Turnbull said Labor’s tax plans would “send a very poor signal to all Australian workers”: “Don’t bother trying to earn just over two times average full time weekly earnings.”
“Because once you do, half of every additional bit of effort; half of every extra hour you work; half of every new idea you generate – indeed, half of your extra perseverance, determination and enterprise – belongs to the government,” he said.
“This undermines aspiration and fairness, while worsening incentives and economic efficiency.”