Bill Shorten’s blind spot exposed


Mr Shorten has stumbled on superannuation taxes and climate change measures and allowed the Liberals to raise issues of trust and competence.

And he had, with some hostility, rejected a suggestion he is limiting his appeal to health.

“First of all I haven’t spoken exclusively about health,” he told a reporter on Tuesday.

But it sometimes sure sounds like he does.

The release today of the state of the April 2 Budget – the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook – will swing attention back to economic management while Labor will want to talk about health matters.

There is little doubt Mr Shorten’s policy to spend $2.3 billion helping pay for cancer treatments has been welcomed. Those whose relatives and personal finances have been through the ordeal, and those facing it themselves, know it is a real issue.

But the multiple proposals Labor has been pushing out daily since Monday last week look like they are being used to postpone or overwhelm debate on other matters.

Such as Labor’s proposed taxes on superannuation, and the measures it would take to reduce harmful carbon emissions.

On Tuesday Mr Shorten performed badly on both.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten doing a morning run around Swan River in Perth. Picture Kym SmithSource:News Corp Australia

“We have no plans to increase taxes on superannuation,” he said to one reporter’s question.

And again: “We have no plans to introduce any new taxes on superannuation.”

He misspoke. Labor’s explanation is actually Mr Shorten meant there would be no new taxes announced this campaign.

But existing party policy, released in late 2016, says some $19 billion would come from retirement savings over 10 years.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was in no mood to forgive a slip of the tongue and derided Mr Shorten for his grasp of his own policy.

And in a separate exchange Mr Shorten declined to answer questions on how Labor would reach its emissions reduction target. There might have been some media grandstanding involved, but Mr Shorten did not handle the situation well.

All the time he and health spokeswoman Catherine King have been talking cancer – from slip-slop-slap warnings to a $125 million research boost – the Liberals have been presenting its version of the impact Labor policies would have on taxes we pay.

And Labor has not responded in detail, leaving the argument open.

It cannot keep this up, of course, during the remaining 31 days of the campaign.

Meanwhile, Mr Morrison’s stacks-of-tax scare campaign will continue to run.

Mr Shorten today hopes to get more aggressive on the economic front by accusing the Liberals of wanting to cut $49 billion from the provision of services to pay for proposed tax cuts.



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