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ACOSS chief rejects tax cut mantra

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February 13, 2018

ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie says essential services are being slashed to pay for tax cuts.

Almost three-quarters of Australians want businesses forced to pass on a proportion of planned company tax cuts as a pay rise for workers.

The idea drew support from voting groups across the political divide, the Guardian-Essential survey released on Tuesday shows.

But a leading welfare advocate does not believe the Turnbull government should be pursuing corporate tax rate cuts or a flagged reduction in personal income taxes, arguing the budget can't afford it.

The Australian Council of Social Service, in its submission for the May budget, is calling for a $75 increase in weekly dole payments that would cost $3.2 billion in 2019/20.

That's opposed to the $65 billion for the entire 10-year tax plan for business and a further unquantified amount for the promised personal income tax cuts.

"It would be unconscionable to pursue tax cuts at the same time as slashing essential benefits and services affecting people on the lowest incomes, particularly when the budget is still in a weak position," ACOSS chief executive Cassandra Goldie says.

The business cuts appear likely to be blocked in the upper house, with One Nation and Nick Xenophon Team senators already indicating they will join Labor and the Greens in opposing government legislation.

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is still questioning how the business tax cuts will be funded.

"You can't just say it's in the budget so it's paid for," he told ABC radio.

"If I just said 'Oh, it's paid for because it's in our budget but I'm not going to tell you the particular measures that will pay for it", well I'd be drummed out of the business and so should (Treasurer) Scott Morrison be if he's going to try that sort of sophistry."

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said there was no guarantee that giving big business tax cuts was going to lift wages.

"This is the biggest furphy," she told reporters in Canberra.

But Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is sticking to his guns.

"The only way we can secure more jobs and higher wages instead of increases in the unemployment rate is by making sure that the businesses that have to pay for them ... have the best possible opportunity to be successful and profitable into the future," he told reporters.

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