Election 2016: Labor petitions disappear ahead of major savings announcements

A link to the now defunct petition. Election 2016: news, analysis and video
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Labor has quietly ditched its online petitions on pensions and family benefits, ahead of a major savings announcement on Friday which is expected to take the axe to welfare payments.

The websites DontPocketOurPensions苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛 and GiveFamiliesAFairGo.org have disappeared in recent weeks as Labor eyes savings designed to bolster its budget bottom line and mute the government’s “black hole” attacks.

The campaign on pensions railed against the government’s moves to change the pension assets test, slash concessions by $1.3 billion and lift the qualifying age to 70.

“The leader of the Liberals may have changed, but their unfair pension cuts remain exactly the same,” the petition stated, in a version of the website archived on April 4.

Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek still had a link to the petition on her website early on Friday morning, but it was later removed.

Similarly, the now-defunct website “Give Families A Fair Go” implored visitors to sign a petition against so-called cuts to 1.5 million families, including the Schoolkids Bonus.

Labor has already pledged not to restore the bonus – a product of the Gillard Labor government – due to budgetary constraints. The Coalition axed the $4.5 billion payment in 2014 and the final cheques will be issued next month.

Labor sources confirmed the pages were taken down about two weeks ago. Links to both petitions have subsequently disappeared from the website of Labor’s families spokeswoman, Jenny Macklin.

The political imperative of returning the budget to surplus is now set to see Labor jettison a number of welfare provisions it had previously promised to protect. It will today clarify its position on what it calls the “zombie measures” that have failed to pass the Senate.

“We will resolve not to oppose some measures, and confirm our continued opposition to others,” a party spokesman said on Thursday night.

“We will announce some new measures that better target family payments, while protecting those who need support the most. Families will still be better off under Labor.”

The Turnbull government has heaped pressure on Labor over its spending promises in the election campaign, insisting the opposition has a “black hole” in its figures between $22 billion and $67 billion.

The so-called zombie measures are worth an estimated $9.2 billion over four years and $31.3 billion over 10 years, according to updated Parliamentary Budget Office estimates.

Labor has promised it would return the budget into surplus in 2020-21, the same year the government plans to, but would run higher deficits in the intermediary four years.

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