Peter Dutton claims Labor is pursuing a ‘socialist’ agenda with its changes to superannuation and leading Australia to a ‘dark place’.
The opposition leader accused Anthony Albanese’s government of a cash grab against ‘aspirational Australians who’ve worked all their lives’.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers dismissed Mr Dutton’s ‘ridiculous scare campaign’ as ‘hyperventilating hyperbole’ that made him worse than disgraced ex-PM Scott Morrison.
Mr Dutton used his speech on Wednesday to renew his attack on the government’s plan to cut tax concessions for Australians with super funds of more than $3 million.
A poll showed two-thirds of voters support the changes, which would tax super contributions at 30 per cent for about 80,000 Australians instead of 15 per cent.
Peter Dutton claims Labor is pursuing a ‘socialist’ agenda with its changes to superannuation and leading Australia to a ‘dark place’
Treasurer Jim Chalmers dismissed Mr Dutton’s ‘ridiculous scare campaign’ as ‘hyperventilating hyperbole’ that made him worse than disgraced ex-PM Scott Morrison
Mr Dutton’s address to the AFR Business Summit claimed this policy showed Labor was ‘beating the drums of class war’.
‘Whether you’ve got $30,000 dollars, $300,000 dollars or $3 million in your super fund… The super that you have contributed to is yours, not the plaything of an industry super fund or a retail fund or anybody else,’ he said.
‘The government’s super tax is an attack on aspirational Australians who have worked hard all their life.
‘Hard-working Australians put their money into super – from savings, inheritance and windfalls – to support their retirement. They do so based on assurances on taxation stability.’
Mr Dutton claimed the tweak to concessions, after Mr Albanese on May 2 said ‘we have no intention to make any super changes’, showed no super tax cap was ‘set in stone’ and young people would by uneasy about putting their money in super.
He said Dr Chalmers’ essay in The Monthly proposing to ‘build a better capitalism’ and ‘reimagining and redesigning markets’ was cause for alarm.
‘This government wants to experiment with the same system of socialism which has devastated nations wherever and whenever it has been implemented,’ he said.
‘Ignoring the lessons of history, Labor arrogantly thinks it can succeed where others have failed.
‘Without an economic plan, but with an ideological agenda, Labor is steering our nation towards a dark place.’
Mr Dutton’s address to the AFR business summit claimed this policy showed Labor was ‘beating the drums of class war’
Mr Dutton claimed the government was trying to ‘compel’ behaviour instead of incentivising it, as his Liberal Party preferred to.
He said it would be a ‘betrayal’ of Australians to scrap the stage-three tax cuts, which take effect next year, and workers ‘deserved’ more of their money.
‘If the Albanese government abandons them, it will be tantamount to economic incompetence,’ he said.
The stage-three tax cuts almost entirely benefit the highest income brackets, and provide little or no additional cash to most Australians on lower incomes.
Dr Chalmers said most Australians opposed Mr Dutton’s policy and ideology and that’s why the Labor government was elected last year.
‘We’ve finally found someone more negative than Tony Abbott, more divisive than Scott Morrison, and more ridiculous with every passing day,’ he told ABC radio.
‘He is the poster child for the sort of politics Australians rejected in May, and he seems to have learned nothing from that.
‘These ridiculous scare campaigns, and this hyperventilating hyperbole every day [show he has] learned nothing from the last wasted decade of needless conflict.’
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also mocked Mr Dutton’s attacks on his superannuation policy in parliament on Tuesday.
He was asked in Question Time if he stood by his ‘we have no intention to make any super changes’ statement on May 2 last year.
Mr Albanese barely began answering when Mr Dutton angrily interjected that he was not addressing the question.
‘Once again, more angry ranting. What happened to the smile? You were gonna smile more, Peter! You were gonna smile more!’ the PM responded.
‘What happened to Happy Peter?! Where’s it gone?! Where’s it gone? So much anger, so much vitriol.’
Once he was able to continue, the PM sarcastically challenged Mr Dutton to sink NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s reelection chances by campaigning against the superannuation changes.
‘We’re a government for all Australians. They are a government for one half of one per cent of Australians. And I encourage them to go to the wall for that one half of one per cent,’ he said, in reference to the 80,000 richest Australians.
‘I encourage the leader of the opposition to go to the Liberal Party launch on Sunday and to stand up and introduce Dominic Perrottet as the premier of NSW, and say that this is the hill they’re going to die on.’
Mr Albanese ended Question Time with another dig at Mr Dutton over the NSW election on March 25.
‘It’s no wonder that the leader of the opposition has not appeared with the NSW premier since last October,’ he said.
‘There’s a forcefield around the NSW premier, he’s very happy to appear with me, as is the Tasmania Liberal premier, about getting constructive measures done.’