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 part of phase two to happen sooner.
“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.”
More to come.