Independent MPs ‘conflicted’ by tax cut changes

Kat Wong and Andrew Brown |

Zali Steggall has accused the government of breaking promises on the stage three tax cuts decision.
Zali Steggall has accused the government of breaking promises on the stage three tax cuts decision.

High and low income Australians have been pit against each other because of the government’s changes to its tax cuts, an independent MP says.

The government revealed aspects of its amended stage three tax cuts on Wednesday, shifting on an election promise to provide a bigger share of savings to low and middle-income earners.

Under the proposed reforms, Australians earning an average $73,000 will get a tax cut of more than $1500 per year.

However, those on the upper end of the income ladder will have their savings slashed with Australians earning $200,000 set to receive $4500 in tax cuts rather than the originally proposed $9075.

While independent MP Zali Steggall supports assisting lower income households through tax cuts, she was concerned about the government’s repeated lies and its impacts on social cohesion.

“I am conflicted about this because I know it will benefit many people, but it will also impact adversely others in my community,” she told ABC Radio.

“It always pits low income against high income, one against the other, who’s getting what.”

Ms Steggall represents Sydney’s northern beaches, one of the nation’s wealthier electorates, and won her seat on a climate action platform.

She has also accused the government of selectively breaking promises by choosing to shift on tax cuts but refusing to budge from its 43 per cent emissions reduction target.

“There is a level of political opportunism,” she said.

“I think it’s because of the by-election in Dunkley and the outer suburban seats where we know Labor is going to be under attack with the coalition for that middle Australia ground.”

Instead, Ms Steggall says the government should reduce its reliance on individual income tax for revenue.

The government would need the support of the Greens in parliament in order to legislate the tax cut changes before they are due to come into effect.

Greens leader Adam Bandt said any changes from the original stage three plans were welcomed, but the new measures did not go far enough.

“For many people, Labor is asking them to be satisfied with an extra $15 a week, but that is going to be swallowed up by rising rents and mortgages,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“As this now works its way through the parliament, we’ll be asking is this rteally the best that Labor can do for low and middle-income earners.”

Independent Allegra Spender, who also represents some of Australia’s most affluent constituents, said she would take the plan to her electorate first.

However Dai Le, an Western Sydney independent from an electorate with many lower income families, welcomed the changes.

“I’m really glad that the government has now taken the narrative of 2024 to be cost of living,” she told ABC Radio.

“You should change as a leader, you should have the courage to change.

“It’s not about making broken promises, it’s about how can you actually … support people who are struggling.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton blasted the government for the changes, urging for the government to take the amended plan to an early election.

However, he did not say whether the coalition would repeal the tax measures should it form the next government.

“(The prime minister) should call an election and put the changed position to the Australian people and let them be a judge of his character,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

“The prime minister had 18 months to try and put in place changes within the tax system or support around energy payments. He didn’t do that.”