ALI MOORE: Well it's been a will they or won't they conversation, as in will the Coalition back the Government's changes to the stage three tax cuts so they pass parliament. And today we got the decision that they will pass them. They formally confirmed they'll try to amend the tax cut bill, but ultimately they will wave it through Parliament. And I wonder whether you think that is a win for the government. Was there any alternative for the Opposition? 1300 222 774 is the number and how does it be that we have gone from the Opposition saying it's a case of egregious lies and broken promises to now we will allow the cuts through the parliament. Jane Hume is the Shadow Finance Minister. She is currently in Parliament which is sitting today. So we recorded this interview earlier and I started off by asking Jane Hume to confirm that the Opposition will back the bill.
JANE HUME: First of all, let me just say that the Prime Minister has lied and broken promises here has essentially meant that delivering the stage three tax reforms as they've been legislated from the first of July 2024, that's now impossible. And we are absolutely 100% committed to lower to simpler and to fairer taxes, which is exactly what stage one, stage two and stage three of the personal income tax plan which was a very well calibrated, well timed plan implemented, what we won't do is stand in the way of a tax reduction for Australians. So we will not oppose the reduction that Labor are proposing to take the 19 cent tax rate down to 16 cents in the dollar. However, however, the coalition is absolutely committed to going to the next election with a tax reform package that's in keeping with stage three tax reform that will deliver lower and simpler and fairer taxes that will fight that bracket creep. That is so pernicious that essentially sucks the aspiration out of our tax system, and that rewards hard work and supports a strong economy where every Australian has the chance to get ahead. We have no interest in pitting one group of Australians against the other. The Prime Minister is great at that.
ALI MOORE: So do I take it from that then that yes, you will allow or wave this particular package through but if you are in government, will you aim to roll back the stage three cuts as designed by the government, not as designed by you originally?
JANE HUME: We would not take money out of people's pockets. We are always in favor of lower taxes. And we will be supporting that lowering of the tax bracket from 19 cents to 16 cents. Absolutely.
ALI MOORE: So should you have done that originally? Did you get that wrong?
JANE HUME: Well, unfortunately, the stage one, stage two and stage three was actually a very good, very well calibrated plan that put much more money back into people's pockets.
ALI MOORE: But it didn't lower the lower tax brackets though?
JANE HUME: However, what became clear is that the Prime Minister, reading his opinion polls at the end of last year decided that if he was ever going to have a chance of winning at the Dunkley by election, he needed to do something pretty serious. So he went back on his promise. He went back on a commitment that he had made more than 100 times after the election and certainly in advance of the election, that he would roll back those stage three tax cuts.
ALI MOORE: Senator Hume, I'll get to promise in a minute, but just just on to in terms of what you support, in terms of the tax changes if you are in favor of 19 cents becoming 16 cents, why wasn't it in the original design of the stage three tax cuts?
JANE HUME: Well, actually this recalibrates the tax system quite dramatically, which is why we can't say that we will deliver stage three as legislated, we can't because it's going to be undone. It's supposed to start on the first of July of this year. That is now impossible. So we will recalibrate our tax policy, and we will take that to the next election. And I can assure you that it will deliver a lower and simpler and fairer tax system that enshrined aspiration as part of it, it will be fully costed. It will provide for Australians future security, it will guarantee essential services and it will be ready to implement the moment a Dutton Coalition government comes to government.
ALI MOORE: But given all that you're saying and again, put the promise question to one side, all that you're saying about the actual tax policy, if you don't agree with it, if it fundamentally changes what you wanted in terms of the design, why wave it through? Why not block it?
JANE HUME: It changes the tax system there is no doubt about that-
ALI MOORE: But are you in favor of that change, because if you're not why support it?
JANE HUME: We know that people are doing it tough and the reason why they're doing it tough is because of the decisions that this government has made. In fact real disposable incomes in Australia has decreased for the first time in as long as we can remember, decreased by about 8.7%. If people are feeling poorer, that's because they are poor. And that's because of inflation because of increased interest rates. And because of increased taxes, including that bracket creep, but stage three would have gone some of the way at least to address. Now because of that, people are, like the average wage earner, let's say you earn $100,000 you're probably about $8,000 a year worse off poorer than you were when Labor were elected. What the government is doing, what Anthony Albanese is trying to do, is buy his way back into favor with the maximum tax break that he's giving anybody is about $15 a week here. You cannot buy integrity for $15 a week. He has sold his integrity with this broken promise.
ALI MOORE: But looking at the stage three tax cuts, would you agree as the Parliamentary Budget Office says, that those in that middle income bracket the 45 to 150,000 dollars a year are going to be better off than they would have been under the cuts as you design them? And if you agree, is that a good thing?
JANE HUME: They will get an extra $15 a week and quite frankly, any port in a storm here. If you're a drowning man, you're gonna grab a life raft even if it's only $15 a week so I understand the pain that people are feeling and why they would be happy at the prospect of even $15 a week. The problem is of course that by ditching the stage three tax cuts, you're you're essentially enshrining bracket creep into, into our tax system, which is totally pernicious. It sucks aspiration out.
ALI MOORE: Well, it's enshrined in the tax system anyway, isn't it?
JANE HUME: But it was, from the first of July it was going to be alleviated. In fact anybody that earns less than between $45,000 and $200,000 wouldn't be subject to bracket creep. So they would have been able to take on that extra job or work those extra hours. They'll do whatever it is that they wanted to do without knowing that their tax bracket was going to increase that the government would take more and more of their money. In fact, the way that the tax system has been recalibrated with this broken promise is now the government is going to take in an additional $28 billion of people's taxes over the next 10 years.
ALI MOORE: Senator, can I just ask you two brief questions to go directly to the issue at hand? First of all the question of the broken promise and it was called a egregious decision today by your leader. You would know that many people and indeed that every day here at the ABC, they tell us that all politicians break promises or change their minds when it suits them. You only have to go back to 2013 and Tony Abbott and the no cuts to education, health and the ABC. I know you weren't in parliament in 2013. But you do know that the very next budget made cuts to all those things education, health and the ABC. Don't all politicians break promises when it suits them?
JANE HUME: I think the best examples of this is Julia Gillard and the carbon tax. 'There will be no Carbon Tax under a government I lead'.
ALI MOORE: Sure but are you saying that no one on your side of politics has ever broken a promise?
JANE HUME: Just bear with me Ali, quite frankly, when Julia Gillard did that she paid a political price for it. John Howard took a change of tax to an election. And that's what we are asking Anthony Albanese to do if you're going to make a significant change to what you have promised. What you promised before the election, what you promised 100 times after the election, what you promised let's face it Ali two weeks ago, he looked Australians in the eye and said there will be no changes-
ALI MOORE: But Tony Abbott didn't take a change of promise to the election. In fact, that was his election eve promise-
JANE HUME: Sorry-
ALI MOORE: No cuts to education, health or the ABC and he won the next day and he made cuts to education health and the ABC
JANE HUME: Ali, if you're going to make a significant change to the tax system that affects all Australians. Well, I think that that should be something that is taken to an election and certainly that is something that we will take to an election a fully costed, fully formed tax package that addresses lower, simpler, fairer taxes and enshrines aspiration back into the tax system. Because let's be honest, when we talk about aspiration, we're not talking about trying to pit rich people and poor people and what does it mean to be rich and what does it mean to be poor? That's a terrible thing to do-
ALI MOORE: And that is a point that you've made Senator Hume. We're almost out of time-
JANE HUME: More importantly, more importantly, aspiration is about earning 120,000 now and wanting to earn 140,000, wanting to retire on 180,000. There's nothing wrong with that, should be proud of that.
ALI MOORE: Can I just confirm the amendments that you are going to attempt to make to this bill that you will try and change the Bill before it goes through Parliament? Are those amendments to restore it to your original stage three?
JANE HUME: Well we will announce our amendments when they when the Bill comes-
ALI MOORE: But what are they?
JANE HUME: When the bill comes to a debate, but what I can assure you is it will be very clear as part of those amendments, that we are the party of lower and simpler and fairer taxes and we will stick by those principles. That's something that the Australian public can rely upon.
ALI MOORE: But you must know what the amendments are because you've seen the legislation, haven't you?
JANE HUME: We have seen the legislation. We saw it on Sunday. We spoke about it all last week. And in fact, the Government tried to push us to vote one way or the other without actually having shown it to us-
ALI MOORE: So you actually don't know what amendments you'll be moving?
JANE HUME: -but it hasn't been introduced. Well Ali, I will tell you now that we will move amendments that will demonstrate the Liberal Party and the Coalition's commitment to lower, simpler, fairer taxes and more importantly, we will take a package to the next election that Australians can rely on us keeping our promises that we will deliver under Dutton government.
ALI MOORE: And just a very final question. There have been lots of polls, including a Newspoll this week, seems to show overwhelming public support for these tax changes.
JANE HUME: It's extraordinary, isn't it that these tax changes which apparently you know, were already funded and already costed and already embedded in the budget, that Anthony Albanese has taken that money and repurposed it so that he can win the Dunkley by-election.
ALI MOORE: But what about the polls, do you think they're wrong?
JANE HUME: Well, the poll shows that Anthony Albanese's popularity hasn't moved one jot. That was an expensive gamble.
ALI MOORE: But what about what people are saying about the, what about what people are saying about the revised tax cuts?
JANE HUME: Well, people are doing it tough. As I said, they'll take any port in a storm even if it's only $15 a week, but you can't buy integrity for that sort of money.
ALI MOORE: Senator Hume thanks for your time.
JANE HUME: Thanks Ali.
ALI MOORE: Jane Hume there, the Shadow Finance Minister. Lots of your texts coming through and your calls. We'll get to them in just a minute.