Topics: Stage three tax cuts; Two-state solution; 

07:45AM AEDT
23 January 2024



Peter Stefanovic:  Let’s send it down to the Shadow Foreign Minister now. Simon Birmingham. Simon, good to see you. Thanks for your time. Do you get a sense the government is about to change your stage three tax cuts?


Simon Birmingham: G’day, Pete. It’s good to be with you. Well, it does seem as if Anthony Albanese is limbering up for the mother of all broken promises. That Labor, having reassured Australians time and time again, pre-election and post-election, that they would not be changing the legislated tax cuts are going to break that promise and that will be a massive betrayal for hard working Australian families. If Labor comes out and changes what are already legislated tax cuts, tax cuts that deal with the massive degree of bracket creep that Australians have been facing. Tax cuts that are the third stage in a calibrated package that delivered early support to low- and middle-income earners, progressively addressed bracket creep right across the board. They are a fair package. They are a carefully calibrated package. They are a package of tax cuts. Labor promised to stick to, and it will be a huge broken promise if Anthony Albanese walks away from those promises.


Peter Stefanovic: There would still be savings across the board, though, particularly for those in the top tier. It would just be $6,000 instead of $9,000 or thereabouts. Can those folks give up that $3,000 for the greater good, Simon?


Simon Birmingham: Well, Pete. It’s really first and foremost here about the broken promise. Remember, there were going to be no increased taxes. And yet Labor have increased taxes on superannuation, on transport and a range of areas. They were going to stick by these tax cuts and yet now we know that they are looking at changing them, limbering up, it seems to change them. Completely contrary to the hundreds of occasions on which Anthony Albanese has been asked. But I also stress these are a fair package of tax cuts. The Australians in the top income tax bracket, the number of Australians paying that tax bracket has effectively doubled over the time that tax bracket has been at its current level. The pressures of bracket creep have been pushing more and more Australians into that tax bracket and the way you address that is precisely what these changes do. Which is to simply adjust that threshold back up, to take some of those Australians who have been pushed up into it, back out of it, out of fairness, recognising that their wage increases that they’ve received are about dealing with inflationary pressures. They shouldn’t be pushed into higher tax brackets as their wages just struggle to even keep up with the excess inflation of the Albanese Government.


Peter Stefanovic: Okay, so if those changes are made, would you support them?


Simon Birmingham: No, we’re not going to be supporting Labor’s broken promises and we’re not going to be supporting Labor unwinding a carefully calibrated package of tax cuts that recognises all Australians deserve to have a fair break when it comes to their income tax. That’s what the Coalition government put in place. Yes, we prioritised and made sure that we delivered the early stages of support to low- and middle-income earners. But if anything, the case for the legislated tax cuts is even stronger. After nearly two years of Anthony Albanese and the Labor Government than it was when they were elected, because inflation has been running so high, cost of living pressures running so high, bracket creep, running so high that it has seen huge growth in income tax revenue that the Albanese Government is now taking in growth that was not forecast a couple of years ago. So Labor is getting much, much more income tax out of the pockets of hard-working Australians. Yet they’re now proposing to say we’re going to snatch some of that back in some way. That’s just not fair for any Australian.


Peter Stefanovic: Okay, finally to Israel, Simon, where your opponent, the Foreign Minister Penny Wong, has just been she’s joined the international community in calling for greater urgency around a two-state solution. This is not new. This has been a goal for many decades now. But is that even possible in the current climate?


Simon Birmingham: Well, a two-state solution depends upon many steps. It must be negotiated and the first thing, though that it requires is confidence and trust in security. Israel clearly needs to have confidence that it is not ever going to see a repeat of the types of atrocities that occurred on October 7th. That really means that Hamas needs to lay down arms – they continue to fight. They need to surrender their leadership. They need to see hostages completely returned. And then there needs to be a setting put in place that can provide for security across Palestinian regions and security. That also ensures that there is not a radicalisation of peoples in ways that foster and harbour the type of terrorist instincts that Hamas undertook. We all want to see fairness for everyone involved, for all innocent people, and for them to have hope for the future. But it does begin with confidence in security and stability in the region to be able to undertake those negotiations towards the two-state solution or some other lasting settlement.


Peter Stefanovic: Shadow Foreign Minister Simon Birmingham, as always, thanks for your time. We’ll talk to you soon.