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‘Stuffing around’: Chalmers’ stab at Dutton

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Treasurer Jim Chalmers says Peter Dutton should stop ‘stuffing around’. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

Treasurer Jim Chalmers has accused Peter Dutton of “stumbling around” his position on Labor’s reworked stage 3 tax cuts, demanding that the Coalition declare its support for the $359bn package.

As Labor gears up to introduce its sweeping tax changes into parliament next week, the Treasurer issued a fiery message to the Opposition Leader who has yet to commit to an official position.

“I think Peter Dutton is stuffing around and stumbling around, looking for all kind of excuses not to support our bigger tax cuts for more people to deal with the cost of living,” Dr Chalmers said on Friday.

“We’re all engaging in one way or another to try and get this legislation passed and that’s why we need to hear from Peter Dutton and the LNP.

“Stop stuffing around, stop coming up with all kinds of excuses not to support our cost-of-living tax cut for Middle Australia.”

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Peter Dutton says he’ll announce the Coalition’s decision in ‘due course’.

Labor’s new tax package, unveiled by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in January, would slash stage 3 tax cuts for higher-income earners and redistribute it to workers earning under $150,000.

The changes would reduce the lowest tax bracket from 19 per cent to 16 per cent for earnings under $45,000 and retain the 37 per cent tax rate for those earning between $135,000 and $190,000.

Asked if the Coalition planned to block the cuts, which would force the government to negotiate with the Greens and the crossbench, Mr Dutton said that he did not want to take money away from taxpayers in his electorate who stood to benefit from the changes.

“We’re not going to. I’ve been very clear that the Liberal Party is the party of lower taxes. We always have been. We always will be because we manage the economy more effectively. So we’ll announce our position in due course,” Mr Dutton said.

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Anthony Albanese said changes to tax cuts were necessary to deal with high cost of living. Picture: Martin Ollman/NCA NewsWire.

As a political showdown over Labor’s tax package looms, key independents including teal MP Allegra Spender have called for an overhaul of the entire taxation system to lower taxes for workers across the board.

Other teal MPs, including Kate Chaney and Monique Ryan, have said they would support Labor’s changes, while other MPs still considering the cuts have said they have heard positive feedback in their electorates.

Referring to negotiations with the Greens, who have called for a Jobseeker increase in exchange for their support, the prime minister said his revamped tax plan had enough “merit” to pass through parliament without making further concessions.

“We will put this plan forward on its merits. People in the House of Representatives and the Senate can determine their view as to whether they want to provide increased support to low- and middle-income earners or not,” Mr Albanese said on Wednesday.