Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been accused of “weasel words” after he refused to rule out changes to the Stage 3 tax cuts three times before snapping back at the ABC’s host Michael Rowland over “word games”.
As the Prime Minister and Treasurer continue to promise unspecified “cost of living” relief in the May budget, speculation continues that the government may consider trimming tax cuts.
The promised tax cuts would provide financial relief to anyone earning more than $40,000 per annum.
Asked to guarantee the legislated tax cuts will not be amended, Mr Albanese failed to offer a guarantee that position won’t shift in coming months.
Can you promise they will come into effect in July in full?” Rowland asked.
Tellingly, Mr Albanese said he accepted there were different views about the tax cuts, which Labor agonised over supporting in opposition when they were first unveiled by the Liberal Government
“I know there’s ongoing debate about the impact of those tax cuts. But we support reducing tax,” Mr Albanese said.
When the ABC host pressed on and asked for clarification, asking whether stage three tax cuts will come in full in July, Mr Albanese refused to do so.
“Well, I have said we haven’t changed our position, Michael,” he said.
Mr Rowland then asked the question a second and third time asking for an iron-clad promise.
“It’s not exactly a promise, PM? It was a promise before the election. Has that promise changed?”
Mr Albanese then snapped back at the host dismissing the debate as “word games”.
“You can play word games, Michael. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed, the government has exactly the same position,” he said.
So, who was playing ‘word games’ – the ABC host or our Prime Minister?
Treasurer Jim Chalmers was equally dismissive when asked by the Daily Telegraph for confirmation that the promised tax cuts would proceed. A spokesman for the Treasurer responded: “Our position on the stage 3 tax cuts hasn’t changed.”
Shadow Treasurer Angus Taylor slammed the Prime Minister and Treasurer for using “weasel words” to avoid promising to leave the tax cuts alone.
“We know Labor isn’t committed to the Stage 3 tax cuts, because both the Prime Minister and Treasurer Jim Chalmers told us so,’’ he said.
“When the tax cuts were legislated, they moved and voted for amendments to abolish them. The now-Treasurer did so twice, saying ‘we must remove Stage 3’ from legislation and that it was the ‘right, responsible and constructive thing’ to do.”
“We’ve also learnt in the last 24 hours through a FOI request by Capital Brief, that the Treasurer sought advice from his department about changing the Stage 3 tax cuts
“The Prime Minister is playing weasel words around not changing his position, but Labor has broken promises on increasing taxes from the day they entered office: raising taxes on franking credits, on Australian companies, on retirement savings, on non-government schools, and an unprecedented tax on unrealised capital gains,” said Mr Taylor.
As Clare Armstrong commented in her Daily Telegraph column the other day, “A simple answer is all Australians want.”
She also reminded readers that “our position has not changed” has become Labor’s catchphrase. She suggested they start using words such as ‘promise’, ‘guarantee’ and ‘confirm’ as these are all clear, precise and easily understood terms.
“It’s time to get real with Australian voters” and start using “unambiguous language”, she said.
I think we can all relate to that – but will it ever happen with this government?
Thanks to News.com.au for some of this article’s contents and Johannes Leak for his very apt cartoon