Gibbons slams opposition: Abbott ‘playing politics’ over levy

Posted on January 31, 2011

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Gibbons slams opposition: Abbott ‘playing politics’ over levy

LAUREN HENRY
31 Jan, 2011 04:00 AM
MEMBER for Bendigo Steve Gibbons has accused Liberal leader Tony Abbott of playing politics with his opposition to the proposed flood levy.Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced last week a $5.6 billion flood rebuilding package, with $1.8 billion to come from a taxpayer levy, to rebuild infrastructure damaged by floods in four states.

People earning between $50,001 and $100,000 will pay an extra 0.5 per cent tax and people earning more than $100,000 will pay an extra one per cent tax, from July 1.

Mr Abbott was quick to criticise the tax, saying he would oppose the levy in Parliament.

Independent MPs are set to play a key role in the levy passing through Parliament.

Yesterday Mr Gibbons slammed the Coalition, calling Mr Abbott a hypocrite after the Howard government introduced six levies in 11 years, for causes such as East Timor, the gun buyback scheme and the collapse of Ansett.

Mr Gibbons said Mr Abbott was being devious and had one rule for his party in government and another in opposition.

“John Howard was very keen on levies, and for good reason. We have to assume that, as members of the government and as cabinet ministers, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were equally keen on them,’’ he said.

“When Australia is faced with extraordinary circumstances, such as droughts and flooding rains, the fiscally responsible thing for any government to do is to find a way to maintain services while responding to the crisis at hand.’’

In Bendigo on Friday, Ms Gillard said places outside Queensland were earmarked to receive $1 billion, while Queensland would receive an immediate payment of $2 billion.

Member for Murray Sharman Stone said her concern was ensuring that sufficient funds were made available for Victoria.

She said there was an enormous amount of funding left in government programs, such as the National Broadband strategy, that could be used instead of tax-payer levy.

“Some of the programs which would assist communities to rebuild, they are going to be cut away,’’ she said.

Dr Stone said the levy was complicated and unfair.

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