31 March 2016

Penrith Panthers footy club is fast getting a reputation for where Liberal politicians go to talk rubbish. The night before the last election, Tony Abbott stood at Penrith Stadium and famously declared: “No cuts to health, no cuts to education.”

Yesterday, Malcolm Turnbull stood on the Panthers’ training grounds and declared massive cuts to health, massive cuts to education.

There is one thing we can be certain about Turnbull’s tax plans — you will pay more tax. After six months of contradictions and confusion, Australians finally know Turnbull’s plan: higher taxes and harsher cuts.

Turnbull wants every Australian to pay more tax, while he cuts money from every school and hospital. No matter how you look at this harebrained idea, you will pay more.

Turnbull, like Abbott before him, promised Australians “lower, simpler, fairer taxes”. But the reckless plan he blurted out in the middle of a footy field yesterday guarantees taxes will be higher, more complex and more unfair under the Liberals.

The Prime Minister’s extreme proposal isn’t a “big idea”, it is a massive con. It is a recipe for a divided Australia that will see Australians pay different levels of tax depending on where you live. Why should someone living in Western Sydney pay more income tax than someone living in West Australia?

Make no mistake, this is not just a sneaky back-of-a-beer-coaster plan to dud the states, it’s a recipe to cut more money from schools and hospitals than any government has ever contemplated.

What Turnbull tried to conceal was his plans would inflict even deeper cuts to schools and hospitals than the destructive $80 billion in the 2014 and 2015 Abbott-Hockey budgets.

The Liberals are trying to wash their hands of health and education. They want to cut every state and territory loose, forcing Australians to pay more income tax to cover the harshest cuts to schools and hospitals in Australian history.

At its core, this is a plan for eight different tax rates across the country. A radical, American-style tax plan that will deliver an American-style health system.

We’ve had a uniform income tax rate in this country since 1942. Imagine the bureaucratic nightmare of red tape and confusion that will arise from frantically re-drawing tax barriers across the map of Australia and introducing double taxation.

It’s like ripping up the standard rail gauge and putting every state back on different-size tracks.

Labor believes every Australian, wherever they live, deserves the same right to decent hospitals and a great education for their children.

Australia’s success has come from working together for a common good. We will not build a better, more prosperous future as a divided nation or a competing collection of eight different tax jurisdictions.

The federal government shouldn’t be wasting time playing different states off against each other and our states and territories shouldn’t be spending money and energy fighting each other — we should be competing as one country in the world.

Labor will not support Turnbull’s plan to make you pay more tax and slash more money from schools and hospitals. We will not allow the Liberals to divide Australia and make you pay more.