MACK­LIN ON GRAVY TRAIN

Herald Sun - - NEWS - TOM MINEAR AND JAMES CAMP­BELL tom.minear@news.com.au EDI­TO­RIAL, PAGE 20

LA­BOR’S chief pro­tec­tor of pen­sion­ers will re­tire on at least $200,000 a year while her party tries to strip thou­sands of dol­lars from 9300 peo­ple in her Vic­to­rian elec­torate.

Op­po­si­tion so­cial ser­vices spokes­woman Jenny Mack­lin is one of the few MPs left in par­lia­ment en­ti­tled to the huge pen­sion for life — but she is back­ing La­bor’s plan to scrap share tax re­funds to 214,000 pen­sion­ers across Aus­tralia.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten will also cash in once he re­tires, hav­ing re­ceived 15.4 per cent su­per con­tri­bu­tions on his six-fig­ure wage, com­pared to the 9.5 per cent rate paid to or­di­nary work­ers.

About 6200 tax­pay­ers in his Maribyrnong elec­torate will be worse off un­der the plan, which hits 970,000 peo­ple na­tion­wide earn­ing less than $37,000.

A to­tal of 5300 Bat­man res­i­dents face los­ing their share tax cred­its, mak­ing this week­end’s by-elec­tion the first ma­jor test of La­bor’s con­tro­ver­sial pol­icy.

In a move that will wedge La­bor, the Greens — who are favourites to win the seat in Mel­bourne’s in­ner north — say they are wor­ried pen­sion­ers will be hurt by the changes.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said they would look to amend La­bor’s pol­icy, pos­si­bly to make it means-tested, so it “doesn’t make inequal­ity worse for strug­gling pen­sion­ers”.

Alex Bhathal, the party’s Bat­man can­di­date, said pen­sion­ers in the area were “con­cerned about the im­pact La­bor’s pro­posal could have on them”.

“We need to be do­ing every­thing in our power to tackle inequal­ity, not make it worse,” she said.

La­bor’s tax re­form plan from 1998 sup­ported pay­ing tax cred­its to share­hold­ers and said it would be “a sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fit for older Aus­tralians, es­pe­cially self-funded re­tirees on lower in­comes”.

Shadow trea­surer Chris Bowen has been forced to ad­mit the party’s plan to scrap them if elected, rais­ing $59 bil­lion over a decade, would im­pact 200,000 part-pen­sion­ers and 14,000 full pen­sion­ers.

Mr Shorten called it “a tidy lit­tle ar­range­ment which the na­tion can no longer af­ford”.

“(Mal­colm) Turn­bull is us­ing a few pen­sion­ers as hu­man shields to jus­tify feather bed­ding the very rich who are get­ting a tax loop­hole which is sim­ply un­sus­tain­able,” he said.

Ms Mack­lin, mem­ber for Ja­ga­jaga, called the Lib­er­als the “party of pen­sion cuts”, list­ing pro­posed and fi­nalised changes by the govern­ment since 2014, in­clud­ing ax­ing sup­ple­ments to self-funded re­tirees and lift­ing the pen­sion age. “La­bor will not be lec­tured to by Mal­colm Turn­bull or Scott Mor­ri­son about stand­ing up for pen­sion­ers,” she said.

But the Prime Min­is­ter slammed La­bor’s “cash grab”, ac­cus­ing Mr Shorten of “rob­bing” pen­sion­ers and re­tirees, de­spite his claim that the pol­icy tar­geted wealthy share­hold­ers.

He said re­mov­ing the share tax re­funds was “ef­fec­tively tax­ing them twice”.

“This is an at­tack tar­geted on peo­ple on lower and mid­dle in­comes — it is tak­ing money from peo­ple who have worked and saved all their lives and are bat­tling,” Mr Turn­bull said.

“He can dress this up as much as he likes, but I tell you Aus­tralian pen­sion­ers, self­funded re­tirees, know who it’s tar­geted at.”

Pic­ture: JAKE NOWAKOWSKI

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