As Tony Abbott’s government prepares to hand down its first budget next month, there are surprise plans for a new “deficit tax” or levy, plus cuts to welfare payments for families earning over $100,000. Neither plan was mentioned before last year’s election. We compare what Coalition leaders are saying now with what they said before getting elected. Will there be some “nasty surprises and lame excuses” from Abbott after all?

On increasing taxation …

Then-shadow treasurer Joe Hockey in a media interview, June 29, 2010:

“Because under us, let me tell you, Tim, I say it with absolute, absolute conviction and with no qualifications, we will always spend less than Labor, and we will always tax less than Labor.”

Then-opposition leader Tony Abbott, February 10, 2011, in a speech to Parliament on Labor’s temporary levy after the Queensland floods:

“Why should the Australian people be hit with a levy to meet expenses which a competent, adult, prudent government should be able to cover from the ordinary revenues of government? … The one thing [people] will never have to suffer under a Coalition government is an unnecessary new tax, a tax that could easily be replaced by savings found from the budget.”

Then-opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey, January 25, 2011, on the flood levy:

“This is a dumb idea … It will indirectly affect everyone because there will be less money and less spending in the community …”

Hockey on the flood levy, January 26, 2011:

“It’s just plain stupid, dumb stuff.”

Abbott to a No Carbon Tax rally, August 16, 2011:

“No tax collection before an election.”

Abbott speech to Parliament, September 14, 2011:

“I say to this Prime Minister there should be no new tax collection without an election.”

Abbott, media conference, March 12, 2012:

“What you’ll get under us are tax cuts without new taxes.”

Abbott media conference, November 20, 2012:

Abbott: We are about reducing taxes, not increasing taxes. We are about getting rid of taxes, not imposing new taxes.

Journalist: Is that a promise?

Abbott: This is my whole reason for being in politics, in the Parliament.

Liberal election policy, 2013:

“But only the Coalition can be trusted to actually deliver tax cuts and genuine tax reform that will boost the economy and ease cost‑of‑living pressures for Australian families.”

In April 2014 it was revealed the Coalition plans to bring in a new “deficit tax” to get the budget closer to surplus. According to media reports, the tax would likely take the form of a direct levy or an increase in income tax rates, which would kick in for people earning $80,000-100,000. 

Abbott in a radio interview, April 29, 2014:

“I think if there was a permanent increase in taxation that would certainly be inconsistent with the sort of things said before the election … I am committed to lower, simpler, fairer taxes. Do I say that no charges will rise? No, I don’t.”

On whether families on $150,000 should get social security …

Abbott, May 2011, on Labor’s move to freeze the indexation of welfare payments to families earning $150,000:

“These are class-war cuts that the government is inflicting on people.”

Hockey on Labor’s move, 2011:

“… the politics of envy.”

Abbott in his budget reply speech, May 10, 2012:

“The fundamental problem with this budget is that it deliberately, coldly, calculatedly plays the class war card … families on $150,000 a year are not rich, especially if they’re paying mortgages in our big cities.”

This week, Abbott said families earning over $100,000 should no longer get welfare payments, a surprise announcement that experts say probably means cuts to the Family Tax Benefit system and the paid parental leave scheme.

Abbott in a speech on April 28, 2014:

“But the best way to help families on $100,000 a year is long-term tax relief and more business and job opportunities, not social security.”

On keeping election promises …

Abbott at the Coalition’s election campaign launch, August 25, 2013:

“We will be a no-surprises, no-excuses government, because you are sick of nasty surprises and lame excuses from people that you have trusted with your future.”

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Peter Fray
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