ABC RADIO ADELAIDE
THURSDAY, 21 JUNE 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s plan for a bigger, better and fairer tax cut.
JULES SCHILLER: Let’s get a response from federal Labor. We have the Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh on the line. Hi, Andrew.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: G’day, Jules. Great to be with you.
SCHILLER: Ok. Well, look, a cut to lower and middle class earners – that’s something Labor would support, surely?
LEIGH: Absolutely. That stage one package we actually doubled down on. We said we didn’t just want to give middle Australia a $500 a year tax cut - we wanted to give them nearly $1000 a year tax cut. And extraordinarily, Scott Morrison voted against that. The thing that Scott’s not telling you, Jules, is that about 70 per cent of workers will always be better off under Labor’s plan. He wants to emphasise the total dollar amount but he doesn’t want to tell you where it’s going. And that’s because by the time you get to his stage three, 95 per cent of the benefits are going to the top fifth of income earners. So, that’s not a plan to encourage people into work. That’s not a plan to help most of your listeners. That’s a plan to give the most to those who already have the most.
SCHILLER: So, you will repeal stages two and three, is that what you’re saying, Andrew Leigh?
LEIGH: And we will ensure that middle Australia gets a better tax cut. Scott Morrison voted against Labor’s nearly doubling of the first stage tax cut. That’s the one that was targeted at people earning under $125,000. We want to give people earning under $125,000 a better tax cut, but we don’t want to give a huge handout to the top end of town. Scott Morrison wants to $17 billion to the banks at the same time that they’re facing a Royal Commission and he’s taken $17 billion out of schools. So every dollar that going out of Australian schools under Scott Morrison’s plan is going towards the big banks, at a time when they’re facing a Royal Commission for unprecedented scandals.
SCHILLER: If you go to an election or say that you are elected, Andrew Leigh, and you repeal stages two, you’re going to make yourself pretty unpopular with people earning over $120,000 aren’t you? Many of whom might be swing voters.
LEIGH: 70 per cent of workers will always be better off under Labor’s plan. If you’re an aged care worker on $40,000 – they’ll be better off. A nurse on $50,000 – they’ll be better off. A teacher on $60,000 – they’ll be better off. A tradie on $70,000 – they’ll be better off. Our plan is to help the great bulk of Australian workers, because we recognise at a time when their wages have languished, when petrol prices are up, when there’s a risk of interest rate rises, that we need to take the cost of living pressure off the majority of Australian households.
SCHILLER: Are you saying, like Scott Morrison the federal Treasurer, that your tax plan won’t result in less services or less infrastructure spending?
LEIGH: Absolutely not – we’re committing to higher hospital spending and higher school spending than the government. And the reason we can afford to do that, Jules, is because we’re not giving an $80 billion handout to the big end of town. Scott Morrison put it in the 2016 budget, and they’ve been arguing ever since for a corporate tax cut which disproportionally goes to overseas multinationals, where the first stage beneficiaries are offshore shareholders. I support giving a tax cut to your listeners rather than sending money offshore to foreign multinationals. And I want to be aspirational, I am aspirational-
SCHILLER: Well, this is the big criticism of your tax plan, that it is anti-aspirational. That if you do flatten the tax rate, you go up through the brackets.
LEIGH: My aspiration is to ensure that the majority of Australians will be better off, which they will be under Labor’s plan. But my aspiration is also that kids get a great school, that we have an aged care system where we’re proud to put our parents into the aged care homes. I aspire to be a country where we close the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. I aspire for a nation in which young people can buy a home of their own, rather than one in which the tax system, incentivises investment properties, buying your tenth home over people buying their first home. They’re all my aspirations. It’s a far broader concept of aspiration than the narrow definition the government has.
SCHILLER: What’s this going to do for debt? I mean, basically, both you and the Coalition are proposing tax cuts, Andrew Leigh. Are we able to get debt in control in this country?
LEIGH: Absolutely, we need to do that in order to have the fiscal firepower to face down the next global downturn, whenever it comes. Labor will go to the next election promising better personal income tax cuts for most Australians, better funded schools and hospitals, and we’ll pay down debt faster than the government. And we can achieve that trifecta because we are not cutting an $80 billion cheque to big corporations.
SCHILLER: Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Again, thank you for your time.
LEIGH: Pleasure, Jules.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra