A Labor frontbencher has been forced to defend herself in a fiery clash that saw her accused of being untrustworthy.
Liberal senator Jane Hume launched an attack on Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth over Labor’s stage 3 tax cuts, declaring she does not trust the government’s claims it won’t add to inflation, while demanding “more detail” on the changes.
Tensions are mounting over Labor’s decision to alter its plans for tax reform to give workers earning less than about $146,000 a bigger tax cut than previously planned.
Under the changes, high-income earners will have the value of their promised tax cut reduced, in some cases by half from $9,000 a year to $4,500.
Senator Hume remained tight lipped on whether the Coalition would support Labor’s overhaul, accusing the government of being untrustworthy.
“We want to make sure that we understand exactly what is details are of this legislation. Exactly how it won’t be inflationary before we make a decision,” she said.
“Let’s face it, the Prime Minister has looked Australians in the eye and he has lied directly. How can we trust him? How can we trust you, Amanda.”
Last week, Treasurer Jim Chalmers released a government review on the tax changes which said the shift “will not add to inflationary pressures”.
He also confirmed that he had received assurances from the RBA that the redesign, due to kick in on July 1, will not “alter” future inflation forecasts.
Sunrise host Natalie Barr asked if the Liberal senator thought that the Treasury analysis was incorrect.
“Are you saying the treasury has got the numbers wrong on this?,” Barr questioned.
“We haven’t seen the details, Nat,” Senator Hume snapped back.
The Social Services Minister then asked Senator Hume if she did not trust the Treasury figures.
“I don’t trust you Amanda – I don’t trust your government,” Senator Hume snapped back.
Ms Rishworth argued that a full analysis mapping out how the changes will affect people had been made public
“Firstly, the Treasurer analysis is out there, it is very detailed. We are not hiding anything. But Jane, the fundamental question remains. The details of who will benefit from this change is out there.
“You voted for this legislation. This is over the top.”
The government plans to introduce its tax changes soon after parliament returns on February 6.
To pass the law, the Prime Minister will either need to secure the support of the Liberals and Peter Dutton – who oppose the changes – or negotiate with the Greens and the crossbench.
Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley said the opposition would announce their position in “due course” after going through the legislation with a “fine tooth comb”.
While some independents have signalled that they would support the policy in favour of broader reform, while Greens leader Adam Bandt has threatened to oppose the changes unless Labor directs more rental relief for struggling households.
“Labor’s Stage 3.1 tax cuts will increase inequality. The Greens will fight for more for low and middle-income earners,” Mr Bandt said.
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