LAURA JAYES: Welcome back, you're watching AM Agenda. Labor is set to target Coalition seats as it tries to secure public support for its stage three tax cut changes and push the legislation through Parliament. Government analysis shows 85% of taxpayers in Liberal and National electorates will be better off under the tax overhaul. Nearly three and a half million Australians and seats like Herbert and Ford in Queensland and Page and Cowper in New South Wales, will be the target of Labor's campaign. Joining me now is the Shadow Finance Minister Jane Hume. Jane, great to see you. Welcome back. It's pretty hard to argue against, isn't it, that this tax cut is actually going to benefit your voters too?
JANE HUME: It's amazing, isn't it, Laura, that the way these statistics can be twisted because the average Australian family has actually seen their disposable income go backwards, and the last 18 months of Labor by about 8.6%. Now for someone on an average wage, that equates to around $8,000 worse off that you are today than you were 18 months ago, yet, Prime Minister Albanese, lying through his teeth, has now said that you should be grateful for what would probably be about $800 or about $15.
LAURA JAYES (INTERRUPTS): But what's the lie?
JANE HUME: You'd get exactly what in these 10 days, so the average for the average wage, he looked these people in the eye, all Australians in the eye and said over 100 times that there would be no changes to the stage three tax cuts. Quite clearly, that was always going to be the case. He said over a year ago that his New Year's resolution was to address the cost of living, that was at the beginning of 2023. He didn't ask Treasury to deal with it until December last year. Quite clearly, this was always on the agenda. His integrity is shot and his cabinet like lemmings have followed their lying Prime Minister off an integrity cliff, we can never believe them again, whether they promise to not touch negative gearing, not touch taxes on the family home. Why would we ever believe this Prime Minister again, he has lied to the Australian people.
LAURA JAYES: I can't argue with the lie. Because yeah, he was asked time and time again and he said there would be no change. But isn't he making the calculation that people will vote with their wallets essentially and he's made the political gamble that he's going to give millions more Australians in electorates, in Liberal held seats, more money in their pocket and about a million Australians are going to lose out and you're going to stand in the way that?
JANE HUME: At best, at best, the average wage earner will get an extra $15 a week, and he wants them to say thank you for that. Whatever percentage of people he thinks may be better off, 100% of people don't like to be lied to by their Prime Minister. If he wants to campaign in Coalition seats, well let him knock himself out. Because quite frankly, I think you'll be met with the same kind of reception as he was met with at the Australian Open.
LAURA JAYES: Will you really stand in Parliament though and vote against these tax cuts?
JANE HUME: We will go through our normal processes. We haven't seen the legislation yet and let's not forget Laura that, you know, sometimes Labor's legislation is full of landmines. Think about the last lie that was told, which was we won't make any changes to superannuation. The superannuation legislation that they brought forward was full of booby traps. So of course, you'd forgive us if we say, let's wait until we see the details and understand this properly, before we confirm a position. In the meantime, however, my Cost of Living Committee has called a snap hearing into these tax cuts, because let's face it, this is the biggest apparently, cost of living solution that this Government has been capable of coming up with. So let's unpack it a little bit further. Let's see that Treasury analysis and ask those questions.
LAURA JAYES: So have you requested that the Treasury appear before the committee? Have they acquiesced to that?
JANE HUME: The letters go out today, there will be letters to Treasury and to others so that we could better unpack the implications of this change, of this reversal on the commitment to the Australian people and we would hope that Labor, if they have nothing to hide will participate fully in that hearing of the Senate Cost of Living Committee.
LAURA JAYES: What exactly do you want to ask Treasury?
JANE HUME: Well, I'd like to know exactly when they were charged with the task of unwinding stage three tax cuts because let's face it, just last Monday, Anthony Albanese was still looking Australians in the eye saying that their position hasn't changed. By Tuesday, it had changed, there is no way that the work that had been done by Treasury could be done in such a short space of time. This has been on the cards for a considerable period of time. On top of that, we want to understand how it cannot be inflationary. Will in fact, inflation stay higher for longer and all Australians pay the price for this decision.
LAURA JAYES: Okay, can I put it to you that this is how the next couple of months are going to go? You and your colleagues will be out there in the next couple of weeks trying to inflict maximum political damage highlighting Anthony Albanese’s lie, saying that you'll come up with an alternative plan before the next election. You want more people to be better off. You don't want to see class warfare but you'll stand in that Parliament before July and wave these tax cuts through, put up amendments if they fail, but you'll ultimately vote for it.
JANE HUME: Laura, you know that the Coalition has always stood for lower and simpler taxes. That's what the personal income tax plan was all about. That's why stage one and stage two gave over $40 billion dollars of tax relief to low and middle income earners. That's why we had the low middle income tax offset, the LMITO, which helped another 10 million Australians. Stage three was about simplifying the tax system, it was about removing that 37% tax bracket and we're about returning that pernicious bracket creep, which has sucked the aspiration of working Australians. We need to address bracket creep in this country. Otherwise we're going to see this sluggish economic growth, negative economic growth on a per capita basis, essentially dead in the water productivity and this Government's decisions, it's bad decisions, it's lies, it's wrong priorities and it's broken promises are simply making the situation worse.
LAURA JAYES: So if you don't win Dunkley, will you change your tune?
JANE HUME: This has nothing from our perspective, has so little to do with Dunkley. Dunkley has to do with a fantastic candidate that we have down there in the very popular local mayor, Nathan Conroy, who is like an embodiment of the people of Dunkley - a great migrant story, a young family and he himself is struggling from the rises in the cost of living. So he has enormous empathy for the people down there. But we do know that clearly, this decision to lie to the Australian people, to backflip on a promise is a political decision. It's not an economic one and that's what we will uncover from Treasury on Monday at the Cost of Living Committee.
LAURA JAYES: Do you think people care though, if they're getting more money?
JANE HUME: I think for $15 a week, they know that they can't buy integrity.
LAURA JAYES: Jane Hume, good to have you back. We'll see you soon.