News National Love letters they’re not: Cabinet correspondence bodes ill for tax debate

Love letters they’re not: Cabinet correspondence bodes ill for tax debate

Josh Frydenberg Jim Chalmers letters
The letter exchange does not bode well for the start of Parliament. Photo: AAP/TND
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Throughout the ages, famous lovers have documented their romance through letters, from F Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald to Vita Sackville West and Virginia Wolf.

“Darling – I love these velvet nights. I’ve never been able to decide … whether I love you most in the eternal classic half-lights where it blends with day or in the full religious fan-fare of mid-night or perhaps in the lux of noon,” Zelda Fitzgerald once wrote. 

And now, as Parliament prepares to return on July 1 to consider $158 billion in tax cuts, the nation is being subjected to the public release of letters exchanged between the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers. 

It’s just not quite the same.

treasurer letters
Mr Frydenberg’s prose falls short of Sackville West’s letters to Wolf. Photo: Leyland Publishing

In his latest correspondence, Mr Frydenberg responds to Mr Chalmer’s plea for a breakdown of the 2024 tax cuts for the rich with a brusque suggestion that he read the budget papers. 

“Thank you for your letter of 14 June 2019 regarding the Government’s Personal Income Tax Plan,” Mr Frydenberg writes. 

So far, so good. But it’s all downhill from there.

“I strongly recommend you read the Government’s 2019-20 Budget, which provides comprehensive detail on the Government’s personal income tax plan. 

“It describes the policy rationale and the changes that will occur to tax rates, brackets and offsets. It provides a break- down of the revenue impacts by each stage over the medium term, and a year by year break down of the revenue impact over the forward estimates.”

Romantic isn’t it ? But wait, there’s more. 

“By the time our plan is fully implemented 94 per cent of Australians will face a marginal tax rate no higher than 30 cents in the dollar.”

Now, when you put it like that, it does sound attractive. 

Could it be enough to force Anthony Albanese, the man who likes to tell us he simply loves fighting Tories, to deliver them a thumping tax cut in 2024?

Not if you believe Mr Chalmers in shadow cabinet, who recently described the 2024 tax cuts as “offensive” because they are too generous to the rich.

“During the election campaign you, Chris Bowen and your then Leader Bill Shorten repeatedly claimed that you would have a mandate for your tax agenda if you were successful at the election,” Mr Frydenberg responds.

“Well, the Australian people decided to back in our plan to provide tax relief for all working Australians and we urge you to respect their verdict.”

Mr Frydenberg signs off with a CC of his correspondence to the Minister for Finance Matthias Cormann, leaders of non-government parties and independent senators, before his office sent the letter out to journalists.

At face value, it does lack a little intimacy. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have an ultimatum. 

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