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Opposition says turnbull should consult directly on budget repair measures

LABOR will not dance to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s tune on fixing the deficit-ridden Budget, Bill Shorten warned the government today.

The Opposition Leader effectively rejected a plea from the Prime Minister to join forces on a legislative package to save $6.5 billion in spending.

In a speech today, Mr Turnbull said there would be co-operation but in return Labor would have to make commitments on prized government policies.

Hes dictating to Labor, Mr Shorten told reporters.

He says that the only form of co-operation can be if we do what he wants, if we dance to the Liberal tune, he told reporters.

Well, we will never vote to harm Medicare, we will never vote to lift the retirement age of Australians to 70 and we will never vote to go ahead with $50 billion in tax giveaways he wants to give large companies.

He said the Prime Minister should consult the Opposition and come to the party on measures Labor considers important.

This afternoon, Mr Turnbull said the government was ready to reach across the aisle to Labor on reducing debt and deficit.

But Labor must be prepared to bring an open mind and some fiscal rationality to any discussions, as well as a commitment to support spending reductions they have already said they will back, he told the Council for the Economic Development of Australia.

Australians will not stand for a repeat of the aftermath of the 2013 election, when Labor decided incredibly to oppose savings measures it had itself proposed.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen accused Mr Turnbull of pretend bipartisanship, telling ABC radio there has been no discussion with us. This is, as you say, a massive bill.

So if there was a legitimate attempt to act in the national interest to pass a bill you would think that Malcolm Turnbull might have picked up the phone or Scott Morrison might have picked up the phone to me and said this is how we want to handle things, Mr Bowen said.

Mr Shorten said Labor would not be spiteful about Mr Shortens one-seat hold on a House of Representatives majority, and would not impose petty restrictions on pairing the practice of an Opposition standing aside an MP to match the absence of a Government MP on official or personal matters.

But the Labor leader teased the Prime Minister about his claims to have won a working majority.

In terms of our own conduct, we are not going to be petty, said Mr Shorten.

We know that in the Rudd-Gillard era when the numbers were very close, and there was a hung parliament, the Liberals could be quite spiteful from time to time.

Were not going to go down that same path. The Labor Party believes, for example that employers should provide compassionate leave to employees. We think that Parliament should do the same thing.

Prime minister malcolm turnbull condemns labor policy for lowering prices but then says he wants lower prices


THERE is a central policy question which has thousands of frustrated home buyers most of them young keen for an answer.

How would the Coalition and Labor encourage greater access to housing markets where $1 million properties are fast becoming the metropolitan norm?

The Budget could provide an answer which will see the Government untangle its proposals and give hope to those struggling with high rents when they would rather be paying off a mortgage.

Essentially the Government believes housing prices are already in gradual decline and that all it needs do is ensure this continues. Plus, the tax element in this problem is minimal, it argues.

Still, there is considerable policy untangling to be done.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison have condemned Labors plans to limit negative gearing, a move the ALP says would save on foregone income tax revenue and would lower prices by discouraging many investors and increasing the number of owner-occupiers.

Surely the Government wants prices to fall? Otherwise it will be seen protecting the cosy tax reduction measures enjoyed by people who own more than one house and deserting those who are yet to buy their first.

Labor is pushing this interpretation.

When Mr Turnbull says he wont reform negative gearing he is locking in taxpayer subsidies going to the lucky few, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said today.

Mr Morrison today said they were not tax concessions, but the simple application of tax principles which have been around for 100 years. He called limits to negative gearing a housing tax.

It wont make any meaningful contribution to housing supply and it creates unfair distortions particularly the Labor proposal because of its muddled composition, Mr Morrison said.

The truth is that no one can say with great certainty how the variety of negative gearing proposals would affect prices.

The Government argument is that the Labor policy wouldnt just lower prices, it would cause them to tank. The crash in prices would shred the investments of thousands of negative gearing mums and dads, who Mr Morrison says make up two-thirds of those using the tax offset scheme.

And it would prevent these hypothetical parents from buying houses to pass on to their children.

Further, the Government argues taxation isnt the cause of high prices.

Other, more important factors include the current tight supply of housing land and over-regulation of developers by local and state governments.

Addressing these points would see a gradual fall in prices, rather than a Labor-induced collapse, the Government argues.

It is steady price reduction versus an abrupt tanking, according to the Government. Or, methodical versus risky, the Turnbull considered approach.