News National Bill Shorten forced to clarify Labor’s super tax plans

Bill Shorten forced to clarify Labor’s super tax plans

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten visits the Proteomics Laboratory at Flinders University College of Medicine in Adelaide on Tuesday. Photo: AAP
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Labor has conceded the impact of its planned crackdown on super tax concessions is $30 billion, less than 24 hours after Bill Shorten claimed his party had “no plans” to increase super taxes.

The figure is substantially higher than the $19 billion that Labor had previously claimed. It is slightly less than the $34 billion cited by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

The Opposition Leader was quizzed on the proposed crackdown on Tuesday, maintaining his position that Labor had “no plans” to increase super taxes.

On Wednesday, he had to concede he had “misunderstood” the question. He said he was referring to Labor’s pledge not to increase superannuation taxes beyond those previously announced. 

“I thought I was being asked if there were unannounced changes to superannuation, and we’ve already made the announcements of the changes we’re going to make. But obviously we have changes which we outlined three years ago,” Mr Shorten said.

“I should have picked the words better, no question.”

Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said Labor would release its full costings in due course, but agreed the total impact in closing the tax loopholes amounted to $30 billion – not $19 billion, as previously claimed. 

“We have the pre-election economic forecast and we’re doing that over the course of the campaign. The Parliamentary Budget Office does that after every economic statement,” he said.

“But the superannuation tax concession reforms and winding into the reforms and reversal of some of the Government’s measure, which the analysis shows is benefitting high-income workers and high-wealth individuals does return $30 billion over the medium term on the current projections.”

Mr Shorten was boxed in on Tuesday by Mr Morrison’s pledge not to increase superannuation taxes if the Coalition is re-elected on May 18.

Under questioning by journalists, Mr Shorten tried twice to say Labor had “no plans” to raise the taxes.

“We have no plans to increase taxes on superannuation,” he said.

Asked if he could “rule out new or increased taxes on superannuation”, Mr Shorten said: “Yeah, we have no plans to increase taxes on superannuation.”

Finally, asked to rule it out, he replied: “Sure”.

Labor has previously announced changes, including lowering the threshold for high-income super contributions from $250,000 to $200,000.

That will force high-income earners to pay twice the rate of tax on super contributions, which is taxed at a concessional rate of 15 cents in the dollar.

Labor has also proposed dumping the Liberals’ policy of allowing catch-up concessional superannuation contributions.

The government argues all of these changes will collectively increase super taxes by up to $34 billion – a figure Labor has disputed until now.

“These are all the higher taxes that Bill Shorten is putting on superannuation, and moving the goalposts on people as they both prepare for their retirement and they live in their retirement,” Mr Morrison said.

“That’s why you can’t trust him. He has put so much tax – he’s seeking to put so much tax – on the Australian economy, he’s now started to forget how much tax he’s put on, particularly on superannuation.

“As we’ve seen with negative gearing, he’s trying to erase the record of the additional taxes he wants to put on housing and on capital gains tax.

“Clearly, he can’t get his head around it. If he can’t explain it, why would you vote for him?”

Earlier, Mr Morrison told retirees during an election forum in the Victorian seat of Corangamite that he will not change the rules again on super if elected.

“Today I’m saying under my government there will be no higher taxes or new taxes on superannuation,” Mr Morrison said.

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