POLITICS

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Slams Turnbull Government's Budget Plans

"This Budget is an admission of guilt. A signed confession."

11/05/2017 8:07 PM AEST | Updated 11/05/2017 9:15 PM AEST
Getty Images
Opposition leader Bill Shorten has delivered his 2017 Budget Reply speech.

Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten has labelled the Turnbull government's 2017 Budget plan as an attempt to "bury its past and re-write its history" in his Budget reply speech on Thursday.

Shorten took to the floor of the House of Representatives to criticise the Coalition's "fair" Budget, which includes a $8.2 billion Medicare Levy increase for all taxpayers, saying it shows the government has "frozen this nation and hurt our economy."

The Federal government's Budget handed down on Tuesday plans to return Australia back to surplus by 2020-2021, introduce a $6.2 billion tax levy increase for big banks, commit two percent of national GDP to defence spending, reduce foreign aid spending by $303.3 million, provide an extra $18.6 billion to a reformed Gonski educational program and allow for first-home buyers to save for a deposit by "salary-sacrificing" their pre-tax income into their super accounts.

In his response to what has been labelled a "Labor-lite Budget", Shorten was clear -- "This Budget is an admission of guilt. A signed confession.

"It's proof the Liberals have frozen this nation and hurt our economy. And now they have the nerve to come in here and talk about 'fairness' and 'opportunity'."

The leader of the Labor Party also accused the Liberal Party of having a "war on young Australians" that "fails the fairness test".

"There's no opportunity in the Liberals' war on young Australians -- their education, their penalty rates, their chance to buy a home," he said.

"This budget fails the fairness test -- and it fails the generational test."

Shorten used his speech on Thursday night to talk down the government's position on key budgetary areas including Medicare, national banks, housing affordability and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), saying where the proposed changes "seeks to imitate Labor policies, it fails miserably."

He also declared that, since Budget night on Tuesday, the Labor Party have "identified $1 billion of government measures" they refuse to support.

"There is a powerful difference between my united team and this divided government," he said.

"Our policies are the real deal because they spring from our values. They weren't cooked-up in a panic to try and neutralise a political liability.

"And the great irony of this budget is that while it doesn't measure up to our values - it doesn't keep faith with Coalition values either... In fact, it's devoid of values altogether. Make no mistake, this is not a Labor budget."

Despite his strong stance, Shorten also acknowledged the Labor Party does accept some aspects of the Turnbull government's Budget, including changes to the Family Court and support for Australian Defence Force veterans.

He also threw his support behind the government's 0.5 percent Medicare Levy increase, as long as the hike only applies to workers in the top two tax-threshold brackets and earning more than $87,000.

"We'll back the government's 0.5% increase in the Medicare levy, but only for Australians in the top two tax brackets," he said.

"Labor cannot support making people on modest incomes give up even more of their pay packet, especially when this budget is going out of its way to give taxpayer money to millionaires and multinationals."

Turning his sights towards the future, Shorten said Australia needs "to set a new direction" when it comes to the economy by putting emphasis on "the burgeoning opportunities of Asia".

"We don't just want to compete with our neighbours, we want to create value in our relationships. But to do that we have to bring something with us – our education, our skills, our people," he said.

"And unless we aim to be the best in the world – then we are selling our future short. If Australia doesn't think big, we will end up small."

Throughout the speech, Shorten said Labor plans to commit itself to a series of promises ranging across multiple key budgetary areas.

He announced plans to commit to a Royal Commission into national banks, increasing housing construction, restoring the $22 billion he claims the Turnbull government have cut from schools as well as the rebuilding of TAFE and vocational education.

In its immediate response, the Liberal Party took to social media to respond to Shorten's criticisms, saying he has "no funding plan, no problem solving, no real money," when it comes to his budget proposals.

Following the speech, Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told the ABC "there was not a single policy to strengthen growth, create more jobs or give Australians higher wages," in Shorten's promises.

"He failed to commit to a surplus in 2021. He seems to be spending some of his revenue measures twice," he said.

"He has still failed to provide numbers over a 4-year estimates period, which is just another demonstration that he is not able to add up the numbers over the current forward estimates period.

"If Bill Shorten is serious he needs to come clean with the Australian people about how much bigger the deficit will be over the forward estimates period as a result of the announcements that he has made today. The numbers don't add up, the deficit will be bigger."

Cormann also took the opportunity to defend the Coalition's Budget proposals, calling them "responsible and fair."

"We delivered our plan on Tuesday night, it is a fair and responsible plan and a plan we will now set out to implement through the parliament," he said.

"If you look at our track record since last year's budget, our track record in particular since the last election, we have been very successful in getting most of our plan through the parliament over the last 12 months and we will be setting out doing the same now."

ALSO ON HUFFPOST AUSTRALIA

More On This Topic