In an ABC 7.30 interview, Mr Shorten was asked if the proposed changes to franking credits would mean that self-funded retirees like Chris Phillips, who currently receives $9,000 in franking credit refunds out of a $36,000-a-year income, would be forced to rely “on the public purse”.
“He already is, and this is the real heart of the issue,” Mr Shorten said.
“When you get an income tax credit when you haven’t paid income tax, it’s a gift from the government. You’re already on the public purse.
“But the criteria by which you get this money is that you happen to own shares, and [Prime Minister Scott] Morrison has been most dishonest on this where he says we are coming for people’s savings — no, we’re not — and he’s been dishonest by saying this is a tax.”
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen was made to clarify his comments around figures used to support the policy earlier this week.
But Mr Shorten has not softened his stance around the proposed changes, insisting that it was “a gift” that was costing the government $6 billion a year.
The Labor leader has so far promised close to $7 billion in spending on childcare subsidies and pensioner dental care, as well as a $2.3 billion Medicare cancer plan.
“What the Liberals don’t say to you is that, when you get this dividend income, you own shares, you get this interest or dividend from the shares, it is tax-free,” Mr Shorten said.
“Not only do you get this income tax-free, you get a 30 per cent top-up from the government; it is a government payment.
“It is not illegal and it is not immoral, but this generous gift going to some people purely on the basis that they get dividends from shares and don’t pay tax is costing $6 billion a year and nearly $8 billion a year in the very near future — it is eating the budget and it is just a gift.”