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Battle lines drawn as taxation becomes key issue in federal poll

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has returned from his Covid-19 sick bed to boast of his government’s record on tax cuts, which he sees as a major point of difference with Labor as the country goes to the polls this year.

Jan 17, 2022, updated Jan 17, 2022
Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese say natural disasters will become constant, cumulative. (Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Prime Minister Anthony Albanese say natural disasters will become constant, cumulative. (Photo: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

But shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers accused Frydenberg of launching a scare campaign when his government has taxed Australians at a much higher rate than Labor ever did.

Frydenberg told Sky News that since the coalition came to power in 2013 the government has provided $1.5 billion a month of tax relief to income earners.

He said in the last six months alone 11.7 million Australians have enjoyed $15 billion in tax relief, the largest set of reductions over a half-year period in more than two decades.

He said this will be a clear battleline at the upcoming election.

“Anthony Albanese has spent his whole career arguing for higher taxes,” he said of the opposition leader.

“Whether it was the retirees tax, or the housing tax, superannuation tax, and he was a big supporter of the carbon tax and the mining tax. He has even talked about a congestion tax and other other taxes. So he can’t walk away from that.”

Frydenberg said Labor took $397 billion worth of taxes to the last election.

However, this was a figure drummed up by his office rather than calculated by Treasury.

Chalmers accused the treasurer of mounting “another desperate scare campaign”.

He said the Frydenberg’s own mid-year budget review released in December shows taxes have been higher every year under the coalition government.

He said tax as proportion of the economy averaged 20.85 per cent under Labor between 2008 and 2013, compared to 22.5 per cent under the coalition between 2014 and 2021.

“Despite increased taxes this government has delivered more consecutive deficits than any other government since the 1920s, and racked up record debt with not enough to show for it,” Chalmers said.

“This is yet another reason you can’t believe a word that Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg say about tax and the economy.”

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