Labor downplays income tax cuts for rich

Bill Shorten insists he’s been up front on Labor’s income tax plan despite telling a worker he would look at relief for people earning $250,000.

On the election campaign trail in Queensland, Mr Shorten was approached by a coal export terminal worker who said it would be good to see a tax break for higher income earners.

“We’re going to look at that,” the Labor leader responded.

While Labor’s policy is to increase taxes for people earning more than $180,000, Mr Shorten said his comment wasn’t inconsistent with his plans.

He pointed to a promise made last year to examine extending tax relief to high wage earners and those on the top marginal rate if and when the budget allowed it.

“I’ve been up front. Up front six months ago, up front yesterday, up front today,” Mr Shorten said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Mr Shorten had failed to tell the port worker Labor would increase his taxes if elected on May 18.

“He’s not being straight with people, not being truthful. He’s not being honest and that’s why he can’t be trusted to manage money,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Darwin

But Mr Shorten said Mr Morrison had failed to make it clear how much the coalition would give away to the top two or three per cent of wage-earners.

“I’m not going to let him run around the country taking his happy pills and having his little photos and getting away with (no) serious scrutiny,” he told reporters in Townsville.

“The prime minister’s job isn’t to be the court jester, it’s to be the man with the plan and with answers. I’ve got the plan and I’ve got the answers.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Mr Shorten had “sold out” blue-collar workers who earn high salaries through overtime and shift work.

“He was too afraid, too cowardly to tell them he’s increasing their taxes,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

Under a Labor government, people earning more than $180,000 would pay higher taxes through a budget deficit levy, which would be removed once the budget reached a comfortable surplus in 2022/23.


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