Speaking on Sky News this morning, the Treasurer said: “The policy is a complete dog’s breakfast, it is an admission of their incompetence, their arrogance, of their confusion, that’s what they have announced today.
“I mean it was only two weeks ago Chris Bowen said this was well designed, this was good, no problems, a week ago he was standing by it, yesterday he gave it the big Swanny stamp of approval and today a complete dog’s breakfast.
“It wasn’t okay to steal peoples tax free funds two weeks ago, it is still not okay now, whether it is pensioners or self-funded retirees or anyone else, it is not okay to do that.”
Labor has announced a change to the controversial policy to exempt 300,000 pensioners and welfare recipients from the plan to axe tax-credit refunds for retirees, despite originally including them in the sweeping crackdown to save $59 billion over the next decade.
The revised plan will ensure pensioners with individual shareholdings receiving the age pension, disability support pension, carer payment, parenting payment, Newstart and sickness allowance will not be hit.
The policy had drawn strong criticism from the federal government, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull accusing the Opposition Leader of “coming after” pensioners’ money.
Labor has now guaranteed pensioners will still be able to access cash refunds from excess dividend imputation credits.
Self-managed superannuation funds with at least one pensioner or allowance recipient before Wednesday will also be exempt from the changes.
“Labor has always protected pensioners — and we always will,” said Mr Shorten and Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen in a statement.
“Labor’s reforms to excess dividend imputation credits will crack down on an unsustainable tax loophole that gives tax refunds to people who don’t pay income tax, while protecting pensioners and paying for better schools and hospitals.
“Today, Labor is introducing a new Pensioner Guarantee — protecting pensioners from changes to excess dividend imputation credits. The Pensioner Guarantee will protect pensioners who may otherwise be affected by this important reform.”
65 per cent of voters currently receiving the cash rebates oppose Labor’s policy.
It comes as the federal government faces its own woes, with a vote to give big corporations tax cuts being delayed due to a lack of Senate support.
Despite having “very respectful” negotiations with independent senators Derryn Hinch and Tim Storer, a vote on the tax cuts bill has been pushed off until at least next Tuesday.
The government wants its legislation to cut the corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent to be passed this week, the final parliamentary sitting before the May budget.
Over the weekend, the Coalition lost its 29th consecutive Newspoll, trailing Labor 47-53 on a two-party preferred basis.
It brings Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull closer to the symbolically significant 30th poll which he cited as one of his reasons for toppling Tony Abbott in 2015.
The latest Newspoll also shows Labor has boosted its primary vote to 39 per cent against the Coalition’s unchanged 37 per cent.