Prime Minister Scott Morrison has accused Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of insulting retirees by calling refunds of franking credits a ‘gift’.
Labor has a policy of stopping refunds of excess franking credits.
Shorten used his budget-in-reply speech earlier in April to argue for the policy: “If the tax office pays a tax credit to someone who pays no tax, this is a gift.”
“It’s a gift that is costing taxpayers nearly $6 billion every year – and growing so fast that it will soon be more than what we spend on public schools.”
“Now it’s not illegal, it’s not immoral – but it’s just not sustainable anymore.”
Shorten has reportedly been using the term ‘gift’ on the campaign trail, which has drawn the ire of the Prime Minister.
“What he hasn’t changed is his insults to retirees,” said Morrison, referring to Shorten.
“He said yesterday that franked dividend credits were a ‘gift’. A ‘gift’! I mean what sort of arrogance is that to Australian’s that have worked hard, paid taxes all their life. A: to be told they haven’t paid taxes, and then B: to be told that what they’ve based their retirement on, and what they’ve saved for, is a gift from Bill Shorten that he wants to take away.”
“That’s what retirees all need to know about Bill Shorten. He thinks that your standard of living, he thinks that your retirement and the income that you live on is a gift from him and its a gift that he’s going to take away.”
The Coalition has been using ‘taxable income’ figures to argue against Labor’s policy, which Labor has criticised. Taxable income will often be a lower figure where individuals are receiving superannuation payments or have negatively geared property compared to ‘assessable income’. The RMIT/ABC Fact Check has labelled the claim that stopping refunds of franking credits will overwhelmingly affect the low paid as ‘misleading’.
Should Labor win the election, getting the franking credits policy through the Senate may be more difficult as Centre Alliance are opposed.
Asked about the prospect of getting the franking credit change through the Senate, Labor Shadow Minister for Finance Jim Chalmers said: “We don’t know the make-up of the new Senate. We don’t know the outcome of the election. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. What we are doing is we are laying out policies well in advance and seeking a mandate for those policies…”