Shorten undecided on tax deficit levy

Labor may yet keep a budget repair levy on high-income earners after leader Bill Shorten declined to rule it out.

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The additional two per cent tax on Australians earning more than $180,000 was introduced in Joe Hockey’s controversial 2014 budget.

Successor Scott Morrison has repeatedly said the levy will cease to exist in 2017 as legislated.

But Mr Shorten wants to see the May 3 budget before committing Labor to a decision.

“We want to see what mess Scott Morrison has made of the books and, let’s face it, we are not holding our breath for great news,” he told reporters in Sydney.

However, a Labor government would put health, education and pensions first and the issue of tax cuts for the top end of town second.

Mr Morrison dismissed the suggestion that keeping the levy voters would give Labor a quicker path for reducing the deficit.

“We are definitely not,” he told reporters.

The treasurer said Labor was increasing taxes because it could not control itself on spending.

“That’s not a plan for jobs and growth; doesn’t come anywhere near one,” he said.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has weighed into the debate, saying Labor had not learned from the Rudd-Gillard years and “would do it all again” if it returned to office.

“If the opposition were to sneak back into government after just one term … our country is doomed to the economic stagnation that now characterises continental Europe,” Mr Abbott wrote in News Corp papers.

In defending his government’s 2014 budget as necessary, he said Labor had committed to unfunded spending.

That was why the coalition’s continued commitment to savings was so important.