Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a debate at the National Press Club on May 8. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a debate at the National Press Club on May 8. Picture: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Who to vote for: Major policies explained

WITH only days to go until the federal election, these are the key policies voters need to know about.

 

EDUCATION

 

COALITION: Schools, public and private, would continue to receive current funding of $21.4 billion, then increasing each year.

It is forecast to increase 60 per cent within a decade. The current childcare subsidies, introduced by the Coalition last year, will continue.

There will also be a voluntary phonics check available for all Year 1 students. University funding will remain frozen for another year.

But there is $135 million extra going to five regional universities - including James Cook, Central Queensland and University of the Sunshine Coast, to help students outside the southeast access tertiary education. The money comes from cuts to research funding.

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LABOR: Labor has a big spending education agenda. It has promised to increase funding for public schools by $14 billion over a decade.

This includes $647 million extra for Queensland in the first three years, the equivalent of 1600 teachers. It will also honour the Coalition's commitment to give Catholic and independent schools an additional $3.2 billion over a decade, but will review a proposed $1.2 billion fund. An "evidence-based research institution" will be set up to determine best teaching practices and programs. There will also be $46 million for swimming lessons at primary schools.

Preschool will be extended to cover three-year-olds from 2021, receiving the same 15 hours a week free classes provided to four-year-olds. It promises cheaper childcare with families earning up to $69,000 a year to receive 50 hours a week of free child care, those with a combined income of $69,000 to $100,000 will receive a rebate covering 85 per cent of fees. It tapers down to 60 per cent for families earning $174,000, up from a current 50 per cent subsidy.

Upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE places will be waived, while a two-year freeze on uni funding will be lifted, costing $2.2 billion.

 

TAX

 

COALITION: Businesses with a turnover of up to $50 million can instantly write off tax assets of up to $30,000 until at least July 2020. The biggest change is to personal income tax, where the Coalition promises long-range reform. It begins with a tax offset of up to $1080 this year. If you earn $48,000 to $90,000 a year you will be able to take home the full $1080, with less for those outside that range. For example, someone earning $40,000 will get $480 tax back, while someone on $160,000 will get $135 back.

The bigger reforms begin in 2022 and continue in 2024.

From July 2022 the threshold for the low-income tax bracket will lift from $38,000 to $45,000. It means taxpayers would permanently get $1080 if they're earning between $48,000 and $90,000.

The 32.5c in-the-dollar tax bracket threshold will be raised from $90,000 to $120,000. This means someone earning $90,000 will pay $1215 less tax, and people on $120,000 to $200,000 will pay $2565 less.

From July 2024 the final phase of changes kick in. This includes dropping the 32.5c tax bracket to just 30c and extending the threshold from $120,000 to $200,000.

The average Australian is expected to earn about $100,000 a year by 2024. Under the past two years of tax reforms that person will pay $3040 less tax a year by 2024.

 

 

LABOR: Small business owners will be able deduct from their tax up to 30 per cent of the wages of new employees aged 25 and under or 55 and over. It also applies to carers and parents returning to work.

To be eligible the business has to have turnover less than $10 million, while the new employee has to have been out of work for at least three months. Labor has a similar tax plan to the Coalition for this year, but will not proceed with the promised reforms in 2022 and 2024.

It is offering tax offsets of up to $1080 this year, with increased offsets for people earning less than $45,000 compared to the Coalition. For example, someone earning $40,000 will get a $549 offset this year, compared to $480 under the Coalition. People earning $25,000 to $35,000 will get $350 back, compared to $255 under the Coalition.

Where the ALP differs significantly from the Government is on property taxes. It has proposed limiting new negative gearing arrangements to new properties only.

It means if you are a property investor and buy an existing property after January 2020, you will not be able to negatively gear it for tax write-offs. You will be able to do this if it is a newly constructed property and existing negative gearing arrangements will be untouched. The capital gains tax discount will also be halved.

Labor has also promised to scrap cash refunds on franking credits. Essentially, if you own shares and the company pays out dividends, previously you have been able to make tax deductions on those dividends.

This is because the company has already paid tax on its profits, so if the shareholder is taxed on their dividends the money is taxed twice. Labor is proposing to end this for people who pay no net tax.

 

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HEALTH

 

COALITION: More medicine will be affordable, MRI scans covered by Medicare and people encouraged into healthy lifestyles, according to the Coalition's pitch on health.

The Coalition is promising to keep a healthy budget which will enable it to put more medicine in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), subsidising the cost and making it cheaper, while also being able to reduce out-of-pocket costs on medical scans like MRIs.

It has also promised $400 million over four years for lump sum payments to GPs undertaking comprehensive preventive care packages for people with chronic illnesses.

Mental health has been a big part of its pitch, with an offer to increase mental health funding by $170 million to $1.45 billion, which will include $308 million for Queensland over three years.

It has announced a range of measures intended to increase participation in sport, for healthy lifestyles and preventive health, including $12 million to improve girl's participation in tennis, $150 million for women-only changing rooms at sporting grounds and $10 million for southeast Queensland's bid for the 2032 Olympic Games.

 

LABOR: Ensuring anyone being treated for cancer has no out-of-pocket costs and reducing wait times at hospitals is central to Labor's campaign. It has pledged an extra $2.8 billion for health and hospitals. That includes a pledge to use Medicare to eliminate all out-of-pocket costs for diagnostic imaging, provide free consultations with oncologists and surgeons for cancer patients, guarantee that every drug recommended by independent experts will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and ensuring blood tests remain covered under bulk billing.

Labor has also promised $500 million to cut wait times for cancer patients and another $500 million to cut wait times in hospital emergency wards

The party has also pledged to provide more MRI licences - meaning more of these medical scans will be covered by Medicare and be free of charge.

In Queensland, Labor has promised to help fund special care centres at Logan Hospital and Bribie Island.

 

 

CLIMATE CHANGE

 

COALITION: The Coalition has promised to cut emissions by 26-28 per cent compared to 2005 levels, including credits left over from achieving Kyoto targets, making it easier to reach.

They will do this by retaining the existing emissions cap on the top 140 polluters, with a review in 2020. Essentially these big companies are not allowed to exceed a certain level of pollution, and if they exceed it, they have to offset it.

The Coalition also has a $2 billion "climate solutions fund", which pays farmers, small businesses and indigenous groups to plant trees and other direct measures to counter emissions.

Snowy Hydro 2.0 will be built to provide clean energy while a second interconnector will be built linking Tasmania to the mainland, so renewable energy can be brought to the mainland. The Coalition has also promised to develop a national electric vehicle strategy. Labor says their efforts to cut pollution don't go far enough, while the government says it's a sensible middle ground between protecting the environment and the economy.

 

LABOR: Labor has promised to reduce emissions by 45 per cent compared to 2005 levels, not including credits left over from achieving Kyoto targets, making it an even harder target to reach. It's about 1.3 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

The party has a multi-pronged approach to do this, targeted at different industries.

For the electricity sector it will include $2000 rebates for solar batteries for 100,000 households, or a million batteries by 2025 as well as doubling the Clean Energy Finance Corporation investment by $10 billion for more investment in renewable energy.

Labor will also set a target for electric vehicles to make up all new car sales by 2030 and extend the existing emissions cap on the top 140 polluters to 250 companies, while progressively lowering the cap. Farmers will be exempt from the emissions cap, but Queensland's tree-clearing restrictions will be extended nationally.

The Coalition argues the extended cap and trade scheme will put more impost on business, who will pass it on to consumers, essentially putting up the price of household goods. Labor says companies that cut more pollution can sell the balance as an offset to companies that need to do more.

 

FIRST HOMEOWNERS

 

COALITION: The Coalition recently announced a signature policy, the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, intended to make it easier for first homebuyers to enter the market.

Currently, to avoid paying mortgage insurance, a homebuyer usually has to put down a 20 per cent deposit. The Coalition has promised to reduce that threshold to just 5 per cent. It will do this by guaranteeing loans for people on incomes up to $125,000 if they have a 5 per cent deposit saved.

 

LABOR: Labor has matched the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. It is also argues its negative gearing policy will be a boon for first-home buyers.

By limiting negative gearing to newly built properties, it reduces the incentive for property investors to be involved in the market.

Labor says this will make homes more affordable and give first-home buyers a better chance of entering the market. The Coalition argues it will hurt the property market, dropping prices significantly and increasing rents.


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