MACKLIN ON GRAVY TRAIN
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