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Anthony Albanese, Labor lashed by Coalition for breaking election pledge


The cost-of-living plan has cleared the expenditure review committee, the government’s peak ministerial group on budget decisions, and is going to a full meeting of federal cabinet and a subsequent meeting of the full ministry, including non-cabinet ministers and assistant ministers, on Tuesday.

The timing is fuelling frustrations within the Labor caucus because some MPs feel they are being presented with a done deal that leaves them no scope to warn against changes when they meet on Wednesday at 4pm.

Most MPs are avoiding any public comment on the stage 3 tax cuts until after the caucus meeting when they will know what they will need to “sell” to their constituents, but some are speaking privately of their concerns about the scale of the changes.

A key concern is the revised tax plan would give Opposition Leader Peter Dutton a chance to match the new cost-of-living tax and spending changes without amending the stage 3 tax cuts, so he could focus his attack on Albanese for breaching faith with voters.

That scenario has some MPs worried that Albanese will repeat the mistakes of former Labor leader Julia Gillard, who said she would not introduce a carbon tax, and expose Labor to an unnecessary attack from the Coalition about breaking an election promise.

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One MP said Labor should have put an alternative tax plan to voters at the May 2022 election rather than make changes afterwards, but all MPs spoke on condition they were not named because of the risk that their public remarks would be used against them within the party.

Asked if the government was breaking its promise on the stage 3 tax cuts, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles avoided a direct answer and spoke instead about the government’s intent to help Australians on middle incomes.

“In all that we do, in every decision that we take, we are utterly concerned about easing the cost-of-living pressures on middle Australia,” he said at a press conference in Canberra.

“In every decision we continue to take, that will remain our focus.”

Asked if he and the constituents in his electorate would welcome changes that scaled back the generosity of the tax cuts for those on higher incomes, Marles also avoided a direct answer and said the government understood the importance of tax cuts.

Marles named existing help for households, including measures that cut the cost of medicines or power bills.

“The inflationary environment around the globe has persisted and that is putting pressure on middle Australia, so we will be entirely focused, in all the decisions that we take, on easing that pressure,” Marles said.

Asked by KIIS FM host Kyle Sandilands on Tuesday morning whether he was “ripping off the high end of town” by changing the tax plan, Albanese insisted everyone would receive a tax cut.

“I support tax cuts and everybody will be getting a tax cut,” the prime minister said.

“What we’re doing is looking at how we can help low and middle-income earners. Middle Australia, particularly, is doing it really tough.”

Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.



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