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Labor's chance to vote for fair tax cuts.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/468 TUESDAY 15 JUNE 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS Labor 's chance to vote for fair tax cuts The Australian Democrats have urged the Labor Party to commit to broader income tax cuts for all Australians, and support the Democrats' fair and equal tax cuts proposal, to be debated in the Senate today. "Labor Senators, who have been so critical of the Government's proposed tax cuts, should not just let them sail through the Senate. That's being a part-time opposition," Senator Bartlett said. The Democrat proposal would increase the tax-free threshold, the income on which people start to pay tax, from the current ridiculously low $6,000 up to $7,500 in 2004-05 and $9,000 in 2005-06. This would provide all taxpayers with tax cuts of $5 a week next year and $10 a week in following years. This compares to Treasurer Peter Costello's tax cuts which provide nothing to the 80% of taxpayers earning less than $52,000 and gives up to $42 a week to higher income earners. Both proposals cost the same. "Labor has three choices in the Senate. It can either support the Government's exclusive tax cut for higher income earners, vote for no tax relief for anyone (which is the Greens' position) or support the Democrats proposal to give a fair and equal tax cut to all Australian taxpayers," Senator Bartlett said. "Tax cuts only for higher income earners are offensive. Giving $42 a week ($2,195 a year) to high income earners but no tax relief to the average worker is contemptuous and unacceptable. The highest effective tax rates continue to be paid by low income Australian families who should be helped to stop them falling into poverty traps. "The Democrats would prefer to see this Government provide more money for the health and education. But despite cash surpluses of $12 billion in the last two years alone, services continue to deteriorate. If there must be tax cuts they should be fair and equal. "Australia's debt level is very low by historical standards and amazing low compared by international standards. Providing a fair tax cut to those most in need would not hurt the massive budget surplus. "If Labor does support Mr Costello's idea of a fair tax cut in the Senate it will be another step towards the 'soft target' strategy that has failed them previously," Senator Bartlett concluded. Media contact for Senator Bartlett - Daele Healy - 0419 867 649