Albanese reveals Labor’s tax demands
Labor leader Anthony Albanese is demanding the government bring forward part of its income tax cut package in exchange for his support passing the changes through parliament.
Mr Albanese met with his shadow cabinet this morning to discuss the Opposition's stance on Scott Morrison's signature tax plan, which was the centrepiece of his successful re-election campaign and will be his highest priority when parliament meets next week.
"We need action now, and some of the government's proposals, of course, are off in the never-never," Mr Albanese said at a press conference after the meeting.
"What we have determined this morning to do is to propose a negotiating position to the government which would bring forward tax cuts faster for those who need it and, importantly, those who will spend it to stimulate demand in the economy."
The government's $158 billion tax package is split into three phases over 10 years. Mr Morrison wants to pass all three as a single piece of legislation, and has indicated he is not willing to split them up.
That could be a problem. Mr Albanese urged Mr Morrison to defer consideration of phase three - which covers tax cuts starting in 2024-25 - to another sitting of parliament.
There are only three sitting days next week. The first will be largely ceremonial, and the second is due to be dominated by tributes to the late prime minister Bob Hawke. That leaves Thursday to pass the tax legislation, before a fortnight's break.
"We think that stage three, at a cost of some $95 billion down the track, for an economy which is very soft at the moment, which no one can say what the economy looks like in 2024-25, is really a triumph of hope over economic reality," he said.
"What we know right now is that the economy needs stimulus."
Mr Albanese said Labor would "of course" support phase one of the plan, which is due to come into effect immediately upon being passed, but wanted phase two to happen sooner, instead of in 2022.
"For stage two, we're calling for the increase of the 37 per cent threshold from $90,000 to $120,000 - that is already legislated but is down the track - to bring that forward to 2019-20," he told reporters.
"The third thing we're saying is the infrastructure investment should be brought forward. This has been proposed by the Reserve Bank. We know there are a range of road and rail packages that could be brought forward.
"This is a genuine approach by Labor, a constructive approach, and I hope that the government receives it as such."
Without Labor's support, the government will need to rely on crossbenchers in the Senate, gaining support from some combination of Jacqui Lambie, One Nation and the Centre Alliance.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed business leaders in Perth this morning and announced he had tasked Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter with examining the IR system, including the role of unions in workplaces.
"Our job post-election is now very clear - to get Australians off the economic sidelines and on the field again," he told the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
His government will prioritise the tax cuts and its proposed Ensuring Integrity Bill - which will make it easier to deregister unions - when parliament resumes.
But tax relief is just one plank of his economic plan, Mr Morrison said. Just as important are infrastructure building, a revamp of skills training and industrial relations, and Trump-inspired busting of red tape.
"To provoke the much needed 'animal spirits' in our economy we must also remove regulatory and bureaucratic barriers to businesses investing and creating more jobs," Mr Morrison said.
Mr Porter will be charged with speaking to employees and employers to find practical ways to ensure a "shared workplace".
Mr Morrison said in many of the small and medium-sized businesses he visited with largely non-unionised workforces, there was an understanding among employees that the company's success was theirs too.
"I'm keen to see that collaborative common effort that we see in those businesses writ large across the Australian economy," he told reporters after the speech.
"I'm quite certain that we can find ways to achieve that with the flexibility that today's workers demand."
But he warned the business community if it wanted changes on the industrial front, it had to pitch in.
"No one who has an interest in this can afford to sit on the sidelines and expect others to do the heavy lifting," he said.
"We have to constantly reassure Australians that the changes we're seeking to make are about boosting their incomes by making our economy even more competitive, even more open."
- with AAP