Federal Labor has continued its post-election crisis by “confusing” Australians over its identity, after it back-flipped on its opposition to a part of the Morrison Government’s tax cuts, a political expert has claimed.
The opposition opted to fully support Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s $158 billion package after originally opposing the third stage and proposing amendments to the plan, drawing confusion about its principle policy position and the party’s future direction.
Labor had denied on national television it had “capitulated”, with leader Anthony Albanese claiming that it had always supported stage one and tried to bring stage two forward and tried to amend stage three.
However, Murdoch University Senior Lecturer in Politics and Policy Ian Cook said it was difficult to understand Labor’s decision.
“They’re sort of in a bit of an odd place that they’re in terms of how they’re spinning this, that they’re going to support tax cuts they don’t agree with in order to support tax cuts they do agree with,” Dr Cook said.
“Then maybe later on, they might change their minds about the tax cuts they don’t agree with when those tax cuts are due to come in effect.”
“There are questions around, well what do you actually believe and what is your principle policy position.”
He added that it continued the “real trauma” of Labor’s election loss.
“There’s no doubt that there’s just shock in the Labor Party at that electoral loss and that there’s confusion about how to go forward and what sort of Labor Party they can be,” he said.
Labor sided with the Coalition to get more money back to workers sooner when the package came to a vote in the Senate, with the pack passing 56 votes to nine on Thursday night.
The Federal Government had already secured the support of four crossbenchers.
“We will not refuse tax cuts to those on low and middle income Australians just because we have failed to get our amendments up today,” Labor finance spokesperson Katy Gallagher said in Parliament.
“We think that will be irresponsible, we think it will be irresponsible in the short term, it’s not what the economy needs.”
It has not committed to repealing stage three just yet, claiming it was too early, with concerns remaining that about a third of the $95 billion over the decade of the third stage would flow to those earning more than $180,000.
“These are tax cuts that come in 2024-25 – we don’t know what the economy will be doing, we don’t know what the fiscal circumstances will be,” Labor frontbencher Catherine King said.
The first stage will begin providing payments of up to $1,080 for low and middle-income earners from as early as this week.