Bill Shorten has been accused of offering retirees a “two-fingered salute” with his tax plan after Labor urged disgruntled seniors to take their vote elsewhere.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reignited the debate about what he dubbed “the retirees’ tax” after opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen dared critics to vote Liberal.
Labor’s plan to abolish cash refunds for excess franking credits will save the budget $11.4 billion in four years. A Shorten government would deny refunds only to retirees who don’t pay tax.
“This is the arrogance. They so think they’re going to win this election … they just don’t care and they’ll change it all and they’ll just basically give the two-finger salute to retirees right across the country,” Mr Morrison said on 2GB radio in Sydney on Thursday.
“It’s a retirees’ tax. Tim Wilson, the chair of the House economics committee is going around the country at the moment, and here in Queensland there have been hearings this week and retirees are turning up in droves.
“We’re having to expand the rooms … they are coming and they are voicing their great concerns and legitimate fears on this. This is going to rip $5 billion a year out of the pockets of retirees.”
Mr Shorten defended Mr Bowen’s view that voters that didn’t like their policies didn’t have to vote Labor.
“Chris was saying there is a choice in policies, and that is sensible. There is always a choice,” Mr Shorten said.
“We respect all Australians. That is why we are putting all of our policies out in advance. We have done something unusual in Australian politics: we are explaining how you pay for things before we then say how you use some of that money.
Mr Shorten said he made no apology for the policy reform.
“I think it is appropriate that we shut down unsustainable tax concessions.
Why are we the only country in the world who will let people claim an income tax refund when they have paid no income tax in that year? It is generous but it is not sustainable.”
Mr Morrison told broadcaster Alan Jones that the Coalition was on track to get the budget back in surplus because it had reined in spending.
“It’s taken us 12 years to get back to when Kevin Rudd came and stuffed it up,” he said.
“Every time people hear Bill Shorten running around spending money, understand he is spending your money through higher taxes he’s putting on you because Labor, when they can’t manage their own budget they come after yours, that’s their form.”
Mr Morrison also claimed that Labor’s plan to roll back negative gearing and halve the capital gains tax discount could make property “prices collapse”.
House prices have already fallen by up to 20 per cent in some areas of Sydney in the past year under the Coalition. That has come with a tightening of lending criteria, and no changes to negative gearing.
“If you take 30 per cent of buyers out of the housing market, which is what the investors are, and the prices collapse, and if you get a shock to the housing market like that, then that will affect the economy because of consumer confidence,” Mr Morrison said.
He compared the effect of Labor’s proposed tax changes on real estate to buying a new car.
“The minute you drive it off the lot it falls in value,” he said. “That’s what Labor’s policy is going to do to the value of your home. Anyone who has a home now, the changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax will mean it will be worth less.”