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Peter Dutton breaks silence on Albo’s Stage Three tax backflip with scathing blast condemning his leadership as ‘dead buried and cremated’ and warning: ‘You’re next’

Peter Dutton breaks silence on Albo’s Stage Three tax backflip with scathing blast condemning his leadership as ‘dead buried and cremated’ and warning: ‘You’re next’

By Brittany Chain, Political Correspondent For Daily Mail Australia

Published: | Updated:


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will today front up to voters to tout his new Stage Three tax cuts.

He’ll do so against a backdrop of controversy and chaos as his ministers and the Opposition battle it out over the optics of a broken election promise versus needing to help middle Australia ease the cost of living pressures.

Follow along with Daily Mail Australia’s live blog here.

PM exposes detail behind his repeated assurances ‘we haven’t changed our position’ whenever he was asked about Stage Three

The PM repeatedly said – no less than 36 times – that he had ‘not changed his position’ on Stage Three tax cuts.

He was saying this up until Monday, even after word had already got out that change was afoot.

Now he’s revealed that he considered the phrase a work-around.

Despite knowing he had plans to change the Stage Three tax cuts since the summer break, he technically didn’t change position on the issue until Tuesday.

‘We changed our position on Tuesday in the cabinet, I’m here at the National Press Club on Thursday with everyone here being accountable for that decision,’ he said.

‘We made the decision on Tuesday.

‘I have announced when we have changed our position. We changed our position on Tuesday.’

The PM said in his speech that he asked Treasury to consider cost of living measures over the holiday period.

PM begins appeal to voters at National Press Club

The Prime Minister is now delivering his speech at the National Press Club in Canberra.

The address is an attempt to win support for his new tax policy.

‘Our Labor Government is driven by the determination to make a positive difference,’ he said.

‘To change this great country, for the better. And to build an economy that works for people, not the other way around.’

The PM reiterated that cost of living remains the ‘number one priority’ for his government.

For much of the first half of his term, he was beset by criticism that he was ignoring the crisis and dedicating too much time to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament referendum, which ultimately failed.

In the months since the loss, his government has ramped up public discussions about the rising cost of living.

‘I understand people are under financial pressure,’ he said.

What is Stage Three and will I be better off?

The Stage Three tax cuts were a Morrison-era policy – part of a three-pronged approach – to help struggling Australians.

Stage One introduced a temporary low and middle income tax offset, while Stage Two increased tax thresholds and lowered that low income tax offset.

Stage Three, meanwhile, was targeted more toward high income earners, and would have reduced the tax burden on earners up to $200,000 by up to $9,000.

The catch was that low and middle income earners would see little to no benefit.

The PM has now modified this policy so high income earners, namely people earning over $150,000, see less of a tax rebate. This allows those rebates to instead hit the pockets of people earning below $150,000.

The uproar is about the fact the PM has vowed – no less than 36 times – not to tinker with the policy, which he originally helped to legislate.

In doing so, he has broken an election promise and does not have the mandate of the people who voted for him under the premise that he would leave them alone.

But he’s gambling on the fact that many voters won’t be too offended – given the majority of Australians will actually be better off.

PM wants to be known as a leader ‘with ticker’

Mr Albanese said: ‘I want to be known as a prime minister who had the ticker to say what was needed and to set about doing it, even as I recognise that this would be controversial.’

Nine-Fairax journalist David Crowe responded: ‘Even at a cost to your personal integrity?’

Mr Albanese replied: ‘I tell you what my integrity is – not looking at lower middle income earners and saying sorry, I’m just prime minister I am not in a position to help you when I know I am in a position to help you.’

PM asked why he should – or would – keep his job when leaders before him have been voted out after breaking a promise

Anthony Albanese says the reasoning behind his decision makes all the difference to changing policy on Stage Three tax cuts.

‘We are being very upfront with the Australian people that when economic circumstances have changed, it is a responsible thing to do to change our policy. And we are changing our policy for the right reasons.

‘When lower and middle income earners are saying that they’re under financial pressure.

‘We have a responsibility to do something about it. Not just to wring our hands and to say, well, that’s difficult.

‘As prime minister, I have a responsibility to act and that is what we are doing.

‘We are acting in a way in which we will provide assistance to people without adding to inflation because that will be counter-productive.

‘I accept, this is not an easy decision to make. The easy option is to kick the can down the road. This is the right decision. Done for all the right reasons.

‘And as prime minister, I will always do what I believe is in the national interest.’

New supermarket inquiry announced to investigate price gouging

Mr Albanese also used his National Press Club address to announce a new 12-month long inquiry into the supermarket industry.

Helmed by Treasurer Jim Chalmers, the ACCC will conduct an inquiry to investigate how and why Australians are paying the prices they are right now.

The PM said: ‘To look at how things like online shopping, loyalty programs and changes in technology are impacting competition in the industry. And to examine the difference between the price paid at the farm gate – and the prices people pay at the check-out.

‘For me, it’s this simple. When farmers are selling their product for less, supermarkets should charge Australians less.’

This is in addition to the Senate inquiry which will also take place.

‘Every taxpayer deserves a meaningful tax cut. And that is precisely what Australians will get from our Government’: PM’s new vow

Mr Albanese said: ‘It is crystal clear to me that every taxpayer needs and deserves a meaningful tax cut.

‘And that is precisely what Australians will get from our Government.’

Workers who earn $19,000 will get a tax cut of $24, while people earning $30,000 will get $354 back.

Albanese argues all hardworking Australians deserve more help

The PM said: ‘When I see the pressure Australians are under right now, it’s crystal clear to me that every taxpayer needs and deserves a meaningful tax cut.’

‘No-one held back, no-one left behind. No-one left behind speaks to our responsibility to look after the most vulnerable in our society. That has always been fundamental to the Labor mission – and indeed central to the Australian character.’

PM addresses ‘broken promises’ sledge – framing it as a ‘change in policy’

Mr Albanese says: ‘As Leader and as Prime Minister – I’ve always said I’d be upfront with people and take responsibility for the decisions my government makes.

‘I’m doing that today. When economic circumstances change, the right thing to do is change your economic policy.

‘That’s what we are doing. This is a change in our policy.

‘Some would say that we should stay the course, even if it means going to the wrong destination.

‘To them I say, we are choosing a better way forward, given the changed circumstances.

‘We are doing the right thing, for the right reasons.

‘This is the right decision, not the easy decision.’

Albanese now turns attention to the main event: Stage Three tax cuts

Mr Albanese has revealed he asked Treasury to help create ideas to help with the cost of living over the summer break.

This is when the tweaks to the Stage Three tax cuts where dreamed up.

‘All 13.6million taxpayers [will get a tax cut], not just some.

‘Everyone who works and pays tax will benefit. This is a plan for middle Australia that delivers for every Australian taxpayer, right up and down the income ladder.’

The PM has also confirmed the Medicare levy changes we reported earlier.

PM takes note of global challenges during his term

Mr Albanese said: ‘Australians have been living through the economic aftershock of the pandemic, the first recession in three decades, and the ongoing, far-reaching consequences of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

‘An unprecedented combination of global inflation and damaged supply chains has pushed up interest rates, putting pressure on family budgets.

‘Everything we have done as a Government has been about managing those competing forces.’

Protesters gather outside National Press Club ahead of Albanese address

Protesters have gathered outside the National Press club ahead of Mr Albanese’s speech.

Some appear to be protesting climate change, while others are calling for stronger action in the Middle East.

Treasury advised remodel of Stage Three

The Treasury advice which shaped Mr Albanese and Dr Chalmers’ decision to change the stage three tax cuts argued the global economy had changed drastically since the original legislation was passed.

‘Low- and middle-income households have been under significant pressure from unanticipated cost-of-living increases associated with the lift in prices,’ the advice states.

‘It is challenging to provide support to these households without unduly adding to inflationary pressures and perpetuating cost-of-living challenges.’

Treasury said it was important to still keep the package the same size to help ‘unwind bracket creep’, but that the most logical decision was to tinker with the policy.

Covid and ‘ongoing global conflict’ was blamed for suppressed economic growth around the world, and recent food and energy price rises.

‘Cost-of-living pressures have disproportionately impacted low- and middle- income households because these households have less capacity to absorb rising prices for essential spending,’ Treasury argued.

The advice states that the redesigned model presented by the Albanese government would not add to inflationary pressures the nation is currently facing.

An additional three million people would also benefit from the rejig.

Mr Albanese and Dr Chalmers accepted the recommendations in full.

FILE PHOTO: Australian Treasurer Jim Chalmers arrives to attend a G20 finance ministers' and Central Bank governors' meeting at Gandhinagar, India, July 18, 2023. REUTERS/Amit Dave/File Photo

Peter Dutton finally breaks silence on Stage Three tax cuts: ‘Dead, buried, cremated’

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has kept his head down about the Stage Three tax cuts this week, refusing to wade into the discussion and instead allowing several ke shadow ministers to handle the media rounds.

But on Thursday, he took part in his regular segment with 2GB, finally giving his assessment of the situation.

‘The Labor party now has a real credibility issue.

‘If the prime minister is prepared to lie to your neighbour, I can promise you you’re next.

‘If the prime minister abandoned stage three tax cuts, his leadership is dead, buried, cremated.

‘Let me tell you I believe that to be the truth. I do think Chalmers and Bill Shorten and others have been rubbing their hands together at the moment thinking that the prime minister has finally destroyed credibility with the Australian public and the Australian public will not support a liar as a prime minister,” he said.

‘What they will see is a weak prime minister.’

Mr Dutton described the policy changes as a ‘fatal error’.

Medicare tax change every Aussie needs to know about

It’s understood Labor could also be looking to raise the threshold for the Medicare levy – putting more money back into the pockets of low income earners.

Currently, the levy kicks in for people who earn over $24,276 and phases in gradually up to $30,345. Anybody earning over that amount pays a flat 2 per cent rate in addition to their regular income tax.

Under the new proposed changes, those thresholds will increase by 7.1 per cent – in line with inflation.

This means people who earn below $26,000 will not be required to pay, and the full 2 per cent won’t be required for incomes below $32,500.

There were warnings a new plan was afoot

Daily Mail Australia reported on January 11 that the Treasurer’s office had ‘tested the waters’ with amending Stage Three.

Treasury denied a Freedom of Information Act request that sought ‘modelling, analysis, estimates or correspondence between the department and the (Albanese) government relating to the impact of amending stage three on tax receipts or the budget’.

Two separate government documents, crafted between October 2022 and October 2023, were reportedly identified as relevant to the Freedom of Information search.

But the request to release them was denied due to a potential to ‘prejudice to the effectiveness of the Treasurer’s decision-making and deliberative processes’.

While these documents did not of themselves indicate the government was currently changes to the taxation policy, they suggest that the government was, at some stage, contemplating what tweaking the tax cuts could look like.

A spokesperson for the Treasurer told Daily Mail Australia it is standard practice for the minister to be briefed on all aspects of the Budget and future changes.

Read more about that here:

Opposition committed to original Stage Three plan – want to ‘assess new proposal’

The Coalition has been on the front foot since word got out that the government was tinkering with the tax cuts policy.

Initially, there were assurances to high income earners that any changes would be ‘rolled back’ under a Coalition government if they were to win the next election.

Now, shadow ministers are arguing they need to see the proposal.

Labor will have to take any changes through Parliament, and will need to gain support from the Greens and two independent Senators to pass its proposal.

Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley said she never pledged to roll back any changes.

‘I did not say we would roll back Labor’s new proposal. I said we support the existing stage 3 arrangement and we would assess the new proposal,’ she said.

‘Labor lied about these tax cuts.’

James Paterson added: ‘We look for the opportunity to lower taxes at every opportunity for every Australian. We just don’t believe you should break an election commitment to do so.

‘We’ll announce our own tax policies in good time before the election.’

Shadow Minister for Home Affairs James Paterson at a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, November 29, 2023. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING

Deputy Leader of the Opposition Sussan Ley during Question Time at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, August 10, 2023. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas) NO ARCHIVING 12834571

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has attempted to explain the decision-making process behind this change

In a morning interview on Thursday, Dr Chalmers argued ‘this is about people, not politics’ and argued the PM had still built trust with the public.

‘You build trust by taking the right decisions for the right reasons, even when the politics are difficult and the opposition of course, will pay their usual mindless nasty, negative politics,’ he said.

Dr Chalmers then went on to say the decision was proof Mr Albanese could make difficult decisions ‘in the interests of the people’.

‘Even when the politics are hard and the reason I’m pointing to the nasty, negative and mindless politics being played by our opponents is because they don’t want your viewers to focus on the fact that everybody’s still getting a tax cut.

PM to front up to voters TODAY

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will front up to voters today to justify his Stage Three tax cuts.

While he’s undeniably broken an election promise, the PM is hoping voters will be less inclined to hold that against him when they realise that in doing so, he’s put more money back into most pockets.

Key Updates

  • PM exposes detail behind his repeated assurances ‘we haven’t changed our position’ whenever he was asked about Stage Three

  • PM asked why he should – or would – keep his job when leaders before him have been voted out after breaking a promise

  • New supermarket inquiry announced to investigate price gouging

  • PM begins appeal to voters at National Press Club

  • Treasury advised remodel of Stage Three

  • Peter Dutton finally breaks silence on Stage Three tax cuts: ‘Dead, buried, cremated’

  • What is Stage Three and will I be better off?

Read More

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