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Labor spilt on helping low income earners.



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C091/03

22 September 2003

LABOR SPLIT ON HELPING LOW INCOME EARNERS

After dumping on low-income earners in the Senate last week claiming they ‘cannot afford to save money’, Labor has done an about turn on matched savings accounts with one big string attached - people can only spend the money on what the ALP thinks they should spend it on, Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer, Senator Helen Coonan said today.

“Perhaps Mark Latham and the long-suffering Shadow Spokesman on Retirement Incomes, Senator Nick Sherry, need to have a conversation about where the Labor Party stands on helping low income earners,” Senator Coonan said.

“During the debate on the Government’s superannuation co-contribution measure last week, Senator Sherry vehemently argued that low income earners do not have the ability to put away money for retirement or any other purpose.

“Senator Sherry told the Senate even his own constituents are telling him they can’t afford to save.

“I have gone back to Tasmania and spoken to people in the community who are low-income earners … and I have said to them: ‘The Liberal Party is proposing to give you $1000 if you can put $1000 into super ..They have looked at me and said, Nick, we don’t have $1000.”

“Once again Labor walks both sides of the street. On the one hand Mr Latham says something needs to be done to boost savings incentives for those on lower incomes, while on the other, Senator Sherry chides the government over its new superannuation co-contribution measure.

“So, when is an ALP policy not a policy? When it’s a research paper held up by Mark Latham as a ‘possible’ policy, containing no concrete costings and without the endorsement of the Shadow Cabinet or it seems, his colleagues in the Senate.

“After seven years in Opposition, Mark Latham is still in the policy wilderness while the Australian Government is committed to delivering benefits to all Australians, including low-income earners.

“Under the Coalition Government, the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 per cent in August, the lowest rate since January 1990 and more than 1.2 million jobs have been created since the Government came to office.

“In addition, the Government’s low-income spouse rebate, the current co-contribution proposal, the tax cut delivered to all Australian workers as part of this year’s Budget and the First Home Owners’ Grant scheme are testament to the Government’s commitment to Australian workers.”

© Commonwealth of Australia 2000