ABC PERTH BREAKFAST
THURSDAY, 12 APRIL 2018
SUBJECT: National Disability Insurance Scheme; Income Taxes
PETER BELL: Dr Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer with the Labor Party. Good morning, Dr Leigh.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER: Good morning, Peter. How are you?
BELL: Well, thank you. Why don’t you support an increase to the Medicare levy across all income brackets?
LEIGH: Peter, we think there’s a fairer way of ensuring that the national Disability Insurance Scheme is properly funded and that’s to constrain the increase in the Medicare levy to those earning more than $87,000 and then to put back that budget repair levy on the top income earners, people earning over $180,000. You take that approach and 7 million Australians, including most of your listeners, don’t get an income tax increase. We’re able to fund the scheme – we actually raise more revenue over the course of the decade – and it’s a good deal fairer.
PAULA KRUGER: So are you confident that with your budget repair levy and hitting people over $87,000 - is that enough to address the funding gap?
LEIGH: Absolutely. Both our approach and the Government’s approach raise $8 billion over four years. Our approach raises significantly more over the course of the decade. I also think we need to be careful, Paula, about his notion that there’s been a massive cost blow out. The Productivity Commission last October brought out a report on NDIS costs that confirmed the initial funding projections are correct and the scheme is being delivered on budget.
KRUGER: Now there have been accusations that the NDIS – when it was passed through parliament, there was so much unity. Everyone knew it was the right thing to do and yet when it comes to paying for it, we’re all caught up in this discussion about how you’re going to fund it. And there’s even been accusations flying that people are playing politics with what is a very important issue. Now the Labor party has been accused of playing politics with this issue. What do you say to that?
LEIGH: It’s true we increased the Medicare Levy by half a per cent, along with making other tough savings – including changing tax concessions for fringe benefits, import processing charges, tobacco excise indexation. But the idea that says if you increase the tax once, you must automatically agree to every other tax increase, I just don’t think that stacks up. What we’re doing now is saying we believe that the funding should come from those most able to afford it. We’ve had this period in which wages growth has been the slowest on record. Inequality is at a 75 year high. Now is not the time to be slugging low and middle income earners. We’re just suggesting that the top marginal tax rate be where it was through most of Tony Abbott’s prime ministership.
BELL: And is that the basis for the argument that the across all income brackets rise back in 2013 under the Gillard Government, that’s why it was appropriate then but now Bill Shorten says that this proposal is a tax grab? Is that the same argument that you’ve just made?
LEIGH: I think it’s a fairer way of doing things. You have to ask yourself, will income taxes go up for most of your listeners under Bill Shorten? The answer is no. Will they go up for most of your listeners under Malcolm Turnbull? Absolutely they will. Now, there are problems we need to tackle with the NDIS. The Productivity Commission pointed out the importance of lifting the staffing cap. We should also be letting NDIS participants see a draft version of their plan and fixing the problems with the IT system. All of those need to be managed, but Labor believes we don’t have to slug most of your listeners with a tax rise in order to do it.
BELL: Thank you, Dr Andrew Leigh, Shadow Assistant Treasurer.
Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra