WA Labor MPs have claimed Scott Morrison’s election win is not enough to give the Government a mandate on its $160 billion tax-cuts package, calling its victory “wafer-thin” and arguing that voters were not given enough information about the full plan.
In an indication that they will push for Labor to block the full package in the Senate, WA MPs have also described the tax cuts as “problematic” and said it would “tie Australia’s hands in the case of a recession”.
It comes as Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has said the WA economy needs the cuts to be legislated in full to boost workers’ pay and get more people into jobs.
Labor has committed to supporting the first part of the plan, which would provide immediate relief to lower and middle-income workers, but it has not yet said whether it will support stages two and three.
Stages two and three would come into effect from 2022 and 2024 and have an impact on higher income people. The Government has repeatedly said it would not split up the plan to get the Bill through the Senate.
Cowan MP Anne Aly told The West Australian she supported the first tranche of tax cuts, but was not prepared to sign off on tax cuts that would not come into effect for four years.
“I’m elected by this community to represent them for the next three years,” Dr Aly said. “I think tax cuts into the future should be made by a future government … that’s my personal opinion.
“I don’t believe people knew enough about the promised tax cuts into the future for the Government to say ‘well they elected us so we now have a mandate’.”
Dr Aly said she feared services would be sacrificed to afford the future tax cuts.
Perth MP Patrick Gorman was also critical of the full package, saying the Coalition should grasp the bipartisan support for the low and middle-income tax cuts.
“The final round of tax cuts would tie Australia’s hands in the case of a recession,” Mr Gorman said. “West Australians know the sad economic history of big spending State Liberal governments with irresponsible and imaginative economic projections. I have a responsibility to ensure the same mistakes are not repeated at a national level.”
Labor frontbencher Madeleine King said the Coalition had won the election on a “wafer-thin, one seat margin” and so did not have a mandate.
“It is absurd for the Government to claim a mandate in 2019 on the basis of a wafer-thin agenda with a wafer-thin one-seat margin for tax cuts proposed after the 2022 election,” Ms King said. She said Labor MPs were still discussing stages two and three of the tax cuts and needed information from the Government on how many billions would go to people in the highest income bracket.
Fellow frontbencher Matt Keogh also claimed Labor did not have enough information to pledge support for the package.
“It’s a bit rich of this Government to ask for full support for a tax package it won’t reveal its full costings for,” Mr Keogh said. “The concept they win a mandate in 2019 for something that won’t happen until after the 2022 election is laughable.”
Labor senators Louise Pratt and Sue Lines also claimed the Coalition did not have a mandate. Senator Pratt described the cuts for 2022 and 2024 as “problematic”.
“They aren’t fair, as they deliver a much bigger tax cut to very high income earners than for average or low-income earners,” Senator Pratt said.
Senator Lines said the pressure on the tax cuts should be on the Government, not Labor given the Coalition had originally promised voters they would get a tax cut on July 1. “Morrison and his ministers knew that was not possible,” she said.
Senator Cormann blasted the WA Labor MPs’ claim they did not have enough information on the tax cuts, saying it had all been published in the Budget. “During the election campaign, Jim Chalmers, Chris Bowen and Bill Shorten repeatedly claimed they would have a mandate for their tax agenda if they were successful at the election,” Senator Cormann said. “The Australian people decided to back in our plan to provide tax relief for all working Australians and Labor should respect their verdict,” he said.
“WA Labor MPs should stand up for our State and convince Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers to facilitate the speedy passage of our tax cuts in full.”
A spokesman for Fremantle Labor MP Josh Wilson said he was on leave and not able to comment.
Senator Pat Dodson was not able to be reached.