Labor rolls out death duties ad targeting Scott Morrison

A screen shot from Labor's new attack ad.

A screen shot from Labor's new attack ad. Photo: Twitter

Just 24 hours after slamming Scott Morrison’s “Liberal Party lie machine”, the Labor Party has rolled out a scare campaign on death duties.

The Prime Minister is the target of the advertisement, which highlights a four-year-old interview in which he refused to rule out an inheritance tax.

The context was the Liberal Party’s “great, big tax adventure” after Malcolm Turnbull was elevated as PM and the party flirted with increasing the GST.

The NSW Labor ad features audio from an interview with Melbourne broadcaster Neil Mitchell, where Mr Morrison was repeatedly asked to rule out the controversial idea.

“You aren’t seriously looking at death duties, are you?” Mitchell asked.

“I said yesterday that we’re not ruling anything in or ruling anything out and I also haven’t ruled out taxing space travel,” Mr Morrison replied.

“But, I mean, it’s been floated seriously and it will terrify people, the idea of death duties? Can’t we just say no?” Mitchell said.

Mr Morrison: “The government has made a clear commitment that we’re not going to get into that game … We’re having a very good debate, I think, with the Australian people. We’re considering a raft of very genuine options and we are going to continue to do that and treat the Australian people, I think, with the appropriate level of respect.”

There’s no suggestion either side of politics is even considering a death tax.

But the Liberal Party is mounting a concerted effort to convince Australians that a Shorten government would introduce death taxes – despite the Labor leader describing it as “a total lie”.

Last week, Labor asked authorities to investigate “fake news” on Facebook, claiming Bill Shorten will re-introduce inheritance taxes on estates.

The Liberal Party denied involvement. But the issue has emerged in authorised advertising approved by party director Andrew Hirst.

In Queensland on Tuesday, Mr Shorten raised the issue unprompted to publicly reject the idea.

“While we are on the issue of scare campaigns, I want to call out the latest bit of rubbish from the government lie machine,” Mr Shorten said.

“That is the so-called death tax. There is actually only one leader who has never ruled out a death tax, and that is the current prime minister.

“Labor has never had any plan for a death tax under my leadership, nor does it have any plan for a death tax … He knows it is a lie, he is intentionally telling a lie, but the old ad man doesn’t care. So we will call out the ridiculous propaganda.”

Within hours of those comments on Tuesday, the Liberal Party released a new ad linking Mr Shorten’s denial with Julia Gillard’s 2010 denial that there would be “no carbon tax under a government I lead”.

Australia is one of the few developed countries without an inheritance tax. Capital gains tax does apply when assets are sold or transferred.

The 2010 Henry report into the future of Australia’s tax system raised the idea of “wealth transfer taxes”. But it has never been picked up by the major parties.

Asked about death duties in 2015, Mr Morrison refused to play the “rule in, rule out” game.

In Canberra, the Liberal Party has paid for an advertising truck with the slogan, “Labor will tax you to death”.

“Labor will tax your rent, your car, your home, your retirement,” it says.

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