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Shorten uses budget reply speech to pitch Labor’s economic plan

Shorten uses budget reply speech to pitch Labor’s economic plan

Bill Shorten used his budget reply speech to reveal Labor’s $2.3 billion cancer plan and promise to match the Coalition’s tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners. 

  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • April 05, 2019
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Opposition Leader Bill Shorten used his budget reply speech on Thursday night to reveal Labor’s plan for the economy ahead of next month’s federal election.

Mr Shorten said Labor intends to invest $2.3 billion to help cancer patients with the cost of scans, medical appointments and treatment costs over the next four years.

“Every year 300,000 Australians who need radiology don’t get it because they can’t afford it,” said Mr Shorten.

“That’s 300,000 of us. We’re a smart country. We’ve got the best healthcare staff. We are a rich country, a generous country. We are better than the statistics I read out.”

Mr Shorten also revealed plans to match the Coalition’s personal tax cuts for low- and middle-income earners. He said that no matter who Australians vote for, if they are earning between $48,000 and $126,000, they will get the same tax break. 

But, Mr Shorten judged that "the Liberal tax plan does not do enough for 2.9 million Australians who will earn less than $40,000".

"About 57 per cent of these are women – child care workers, classroom assistants, hairdressers, office managers, and they are parents returning to work part-time. In a lot of these cases these are the very same workers in retail, hospitals, pharmacy and fast food who've already had their penalty rates arbitrarily cut," he announced.

"Tonight, I am pleased to say that in Chris Bowen's first budget Labor will provide a bigger tax refund than the Liberals for 3.6 million Australians – all told, an extra $1 billion for low-income earners in this country."

Mr Shorten, however, revealed that Labor will reject the government’s second and third tranches of tax cuts, projected to cost $143 billion between 2022 and 2029. Calling it a "flat-tax experiment way off in the future", Mr Shorten said the Liberal's scheme that would see a nurse on $50,000 paying the same tax rate as a surgeon on $200,000.

"We won't back a plan that gives a retail worker on $35,000 less than $5 a week while an investment banker pockets more than $11,000 a year," said Mr Shorten. 

"It is neither fair nor responsible to lock in those billions of dollars in tax giveaways flowing disproportionately to a relatively few Australians, and so far into the future, especially when you consider the foreboding we see in the global environment: Brexit, trade wars, the write-downs in global growth, the massive increase in global debt and the drop in the 10-year bond yields. This is the time when Australia should be building a strong surplus, a fiscal buffer."

The Opposition Leader reinforced Labor’s plans to limit negative gearing to new properties from 1 January 2020.

“Instead of patronising millions of young Australians with lectures about cutting back on smashed avo, why don't we tell them the truth? Getting together a 20 per cent deposit plus stamp duty is much, much harder than it was 20 or 25 years ago,” Mr Shorten said.

On the education front, the Opposition Leader said Labor will double the size of its rebuilding TAFE program  up to $200 million to renovate campuses in regional and outer suburban Australia – and pay upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE places.

“I am proud to announce that 20,000 of these places will be allocated to a new generation of aged care workers and paid carers for the NDIS,” he said. 

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