• Hannah Phillips

Shorten’s Budget Reply Speech

There was more intrigue and anticipation than usual as the Leader of the Opposition rose to give his budget reply speech.

Bill Shorten’s speech set out the battlelines for the by-elections that are expected to take place this winter.

He said that, as he listened to the Treasurer’s speech on Tuesday, he thought Labor can do better than this. The government had offered cuts to health and education in exchange for ten dollars a week.

The government’s $80 billion worth of tax cuts for the banks and big business were still in the budget.

Mr Shorten said Australians should ask themselves what they are going to get to help them with the cost of living.

He announced that Labor would do better on tax for working Australians.

Under Labor the cut will be almost double what the government is offering.

A teacher on $65,000 will get a cut of $398 more each year than the Coalition is promising.

Cuts like this can be achieved because Labor will not give tax cuts to big business.

Labor’s plans mean that it can provide a tax cut, increase funding for education and health and eliminate the deficit and reduce debt.

He said the only strategy that the government had to reduce debt was to cross their fingers and hope.

Labor can pay down debt faster because it’s not giving hand-outs to big business.

He said that the government’s tax plan was a mates’ rates tax arrangement with doctors getting a tax cut that’s fifteen times as much as their nurses’.

Mr Shorten said that the forecasts in the budget were just speculation.

Workers needed real increases in wages which a Labor government would achieved by changes to the industrial relations system.

He said that small business will get tax cuts for investment that will increase productivity.

He said that hospitals have suffered a cut of $2.1 billion each year across the nation.

Labor will establish a $2.8 billion hospitals fund to overcome this deficit and reduce waiting times for elective surgery or emergencies.

Labor will provide 20 MRIs to regional hospitals and will ensure that they are covered by Medicare.

Talking of the banks he said that Labor would ensure justice for people ripped off by the banks.

Labor will create a special unit to prosecute the banks for illegalities revealed by the royal commission.

The Opposition Leader said young people always get a dud deal from conservative governments.

He said that he will ensure a level playing field for first home buyers.

He also said that Australia would become a zero emission economy by 2050.

He said that Labor would restore the $17 billion cut from schools under revisions to the Gonski plan.

It will also restore funding to universities and TAFEs.

Labor will also ensure that money is taken from private providers and given to public sector TAFEs.

He said he wants to see skilled jobs go to Australians and Labor will create 100,000 fully funded new TAFE places.

When it comes to older Australians Labor will do better than the government but Mr Shorten declined to pledge any more funding for home care or to the restoration of the energy supplement.

Mr Shorten said he will put his bigger, better income tax cuts, his spending plans and his tax plans to the by-elections and turn them into a referendum on the competing economic policies, however Labor spent very little of its reported war chest on the initiatives it nominated which implies that it is either going to reduce debt more quickly than the government or it is keeping its powder dry for the election.

John McDonnell

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