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Shorten's budget reply targets top wage earners

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Bill Shorten says Labor will support a Medicare levy increase only for those earning more than $87,000 and will fight to retain a budget deficit levy - a move which would create a top tax rate of 49.5 per cent.

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The Opposition Leader has also committed to backing a $6.2 billion tax on the big banks, while vowing to go after those who “aggressively minimise” their tax by hiding money in offshore havens.

Shorten says his plan to whack only those in the top two tax brackets with a Medicare hike will deliver more revenue than the government over the medium term without burdening families on modest incomes.

“This is the fair and responsible way forward,” he said during a budget reply speech on Thursday night.

Shorten said the Turnbull government’s proposed hike to the Medicare levy would impact people on as little as $21,000 and see a worker earning $55,000 pay an extra $275 per year.

“Labor cannot support making people on modest incomes give up more of their pay packet, especially when this budget goes out of its way to give taxpayer money to millionaires and multinationals,” he said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison’s second budget signalled the end to the two per cent budget deficit levy on taxable incomes over $180,000, which was put in place in 2014 and is due to expire on June 30.

But Labor believes it is not the time to remove the levy given the deficit for 2017/18 is 10 times worse than predicted in the Liberals’ first budget.

Shorten later told the ABC a future Labor government would consider scrapping the deficit levy once the budget reached a surplus.

A Labor budget would reverse the Medicare freeze immediately, restore $22 billion he says the government has stripped from schools and another $600 million torn from TAFE.

The Opposition will oppose funding cuts to universities and increases in student fees, as well as a superannuation housing deposit scheme outlined in the budget.

Elsewhere, Labor would cap the amount people can claim as a tax deduction for the management of their tax affairs at $3000 to stop people “exploiting holes” in the net.

“The days of earning millions and paying nothing are over, no matter who you are,” Shorten told MPs.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the Labor leader’s speech was full of political rhetoric but short on plans.

“There was not a single policy to strengthen growth, create more jobs or give Australians higher wages,” Cormann told reporters after the speech.

“His numbers didn’t add up. He failed to commit to a surplus in 2021. He seems to be spending some of his revenue measures twice.”

– AAP

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