Boosts to pension and big tax cuts, so where does all the money come from?

The Liberal Democrats have a huge savings surprise to pay for their flat-rate tax cuts, write Junction reporters.


By Jock Cheetham

Stephen Bisgrove, of the Liberal Democrats, at a Bathurst election forum.

Stephen Bisgrove, a business consultant from Orange, is the Liberal Democrats candidate for Calare. The 57-year-old is married and has four children, and has been in living in the district for three years. Mr Bisgrove believes small government, lower taxes, volunteerism and more personal freedom should be the cornerstone of society, according to this party’s website.

Mr Bisgrove told an election forum night in Bathurst on May 8 that his party could produce a $34 billion surplus from its 17-point plan. This was achievable, he said, through a series of cuts, despite the fact that taxes were also being drastically cut too, under the plan.

Personal income tax, for example, would be cut to 20%, with a tax-free threshold of $40,000. “Removal of the fuel excise tax, which is 41 cents, and one of the biggest things that affects country residents who do some much driving,” Mr Bisgrove told the forum. “41 cents back in our pocket is a lot of money to help small business, help individuals. It’s not about how much money you earn, it’s about how much money you have left over at the end of the week.”

“There’ll be government vouchers for medical treatment, for low-income earners, with no gap, which will include dental.” On climate change, which he doesn’t deny, he said: “Well have more focus on preserving ecological resources for the future” for example “water”. And, he said, “We will lower immigration numbers to 70,000.”

The party’s website notes that: “Company tax should also be cut to 20 per cent so that foreign investors don’t flee our shores, taking jobs with them.”

Huge savings

The savings of $34 billion will pay for increases of $150 per week to pensioners and an increase to Newstart benefits. Older unemployed people need support to help them get jobs again, including help with unemployment costs.

But are all these savings? “No funding for SBS or Triple J, or organisations like that,” he said, which barely scrapes the surface.  

The answer comes from the Liberal Democrats website: “The biggest spending cuts should come from ending government provision of ‘free’ services for all. Instead, government should provide subsidies targeted at low-income and disadvantaged Australians, while government-owned service providers should recover their costs by charging for their services. And government bureaucrats that shuffle paper and money behind these service providers should be made redundant.”

Private schooling for all!

So sacking thousands of public servants in Canberra. Where else can savings be found?

“The main government-run services which would no longer be ‘free’ under this approach would be public schools and public hospitals,” the website states. “The Commonwealth Government would no longer provide $21 billion to State Governments for schooling… State Governments would no longer spend $67 billion on schooling and their own education bureaucrats.

“Instead state schools would charge school fees to recover their costs, and the Commonwealth, which has expertise in means-testing, would provide a mean-tested schooling voucher costing more than $33 billion,” the party’s website said. “This voucher would ensure that low income parents and the parents of children with a disability can afford the same or better schooling compared to what is currently on offer.”

So there you have it. Tax cuts and pensions rises, but public school education will effectively become private school education, except for a minority who will be supported to access fee-paying schools. Radical, but not mentioned in the forum for candidates in Bathurst.