The Australian, November 10, 2016. EXTRACT:
Scott Morrison has escalated the political brawl over budget repair by labelling Bill Shorten a “serial liar” on controversial reforms, infuriating Labor in a bitter fight over tax rates for foreign workers and new imposts on superannuation.
The government attacked Labor for helping “foreign workers” at the same time it was blocking a tax cut for small businesses with revenue between $2 million and $10m, a key aspect of the enterprise tax plan yet to be decided in parliament.
Mr Morrison said Labor was arguing that the country could not afford more help for small employers but could afford a tax cut for backpackers at a cost of $500m over four years.
“Labor is saying tax cuts for foreign workers, no tax cuts for small business. That is the choice that the Labor Party has made. Now, we don’t share those priorities,” the Treasurer said.
The dispute came as Mr Morrison hardened his attack on Mr Shorten over super tax reforms.
The Treasurer argued that Labor took a $3bn net revenue increase to the election — the same as the government — but now advocates a $4.5bn tax hike that rejects key concessions for workers and small businesses.
“They did not say before the election they were going to tax super harder,” Mr Morrison said.
“They did not say before the election that they were going to reverse the measure which was there for tradies and home business operators and those who have other sources of business income as opposed to just their wages.”
Labor proposes to raise more revenue from super by opposing two government measures.
One encourages “catch up contributions” by women returning to the workforce and the other allows small business owners to make tax-deductible contributions to a super fund to give them an equivalent concession to wage earners.
Mr Shorten and Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen confirmed the Labor stance on the two measures on Tuesday when revealing the $4.5bn policy, but they went to the election with a $3bn saving on super that did not question the concessions now being opposed.
Mr Bowen argued the government had changed its position after the election and that did not mean Labor had to “automatically agree” with the adjusted policy.
“If the government changes its policy, we have to consider our position, that’s exactly what we’ve done, we’ve taken our time,” he said.
“We didn’t win the election, we’re dealing with the circumstances being presented to us by the change in government policy.”