Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says whether the coalition’s promised tax cuts get through parliament will come down to the Labor Party, rather than Senate crossbenchers.
“Of course, we want to see all non-government senators, all of them, come behind the plan that was endorsed by the Australian people at the last election,” he told reporters in Perth on Monday.
“But, in the end … this is a matter squarely for the Labor Party.”
The senator said it’s up to Labor leader Anthony Albanese and opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers to decide whether they want to persist with the “politics of envy” they took to the election.
“Or whether they accept the result, respect the result, act on the result of the last election, and vote in favour of the income tax relief that the Australian people have voted for.”
The coalition will need Labor or at least four crossbenchers to support the three-stage tax plan to get it through the Senate when parliament resumes next month.
Labor supports the first stage of the plan, which will mean extra cash for low and middle income-earners.
But it believes the later stage, aimed at flattening the tax rates by mid-2024, shouldn’t be legislated years in advance and may benefit too many who are already wealthy.
The coalition has ruled out splitting up the plan, arguing the later stage will bring much-needed structural reform.
The opposition is ramping up pressure on the government to clarify how much of the $158 billion plan will go to people earning more than $180,000.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese says the opposition has a right to know more about what they are supporting.
“They expect the parliament to go along and just give a rubber stamp,” he told reporters in Darwin.
“We’re after some facts.”
Senator Cormann says the call is just more “politicking and distractions”, with the plan’s impact on the bottom line on the public record.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who directs the two One Nation votes, revealed last week she won’t be backing the plan as she believes major infrastructure spending would be a better way to stimulate the economy.
Her opinion remains unchanged after party officials met with Treasury bureaucrats on Friday.
She stressed that she hasn’t had any senior government figures try to change her mind.
Senator Cormann said all crossbenchers who had sought briefings had been offered them.
New analysis of the tax cuts by the Australia Institute also shows they would entrench inequality between what men and women earn.
The progressive public policy think tank says the first part of the tax plan – which is supposed to help taxpayers for the financial year about to end – would almost equally benefit men and women.
But the later stages, which offer the biggest benefits to top earners, would give men $2 worth of tax cuts to every $1 women get.
Senator Cormann stressed the tax system does not discriminate.
“Our tax system is gender neutral. It treats men and women precisely the same,” he said.
Centre Alliance, which also directs two votes, is also weighing up whether to back the plan.