The Turnbull government has appealed to Labor’s “better angels” to change the party’s position on hiking the Medicare levy to fund the national disability insurance scheme.
Treasurer Scott Morrison, introducing legislation to parliament on Thursday, called on the opposition to rise above the day-to-day morass of political debate and consider the long-term benefit of the measure.
However negotiations with the Senate crossbenchers have given the government confidence it can get the legislation through.
Labor supports the 0.5 per cent rise but only for people with incomes over $87,000.
Mr Morrison said the package of bills was built on the idea of mateship, inspired by his brother-in-law Gary Warren’s battle with multiple sclerosis.
“There must be no more playing politics with disability,” he told parliament.
“I’m not a fan of increasing levies … but I am a fan of sticking up for your mates, I am a fan of supporting Australians living with a disability.”
He suggested Labor had let down former prime minister Julia Gillard, who introduced the scheme to parliament in 2012.
“I pray that they change their view,” Mr Morrison said.
“I would hope that the better angels of the opposition would prevail when it comes to considering this bill and that they will put Australians living with a disability and their families first.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten again accused the government of holding the NDIS hostage.
“There is more than one way to fund the functions of government,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“It is horribly wrong of the government to hold the NDIS hostage and say that the only way the NDIS can be funded is through increasing taxes on people who earn $50,000 and $60,000 a year.”
If Labor remains opposed, the government will face a hurdle in getting it through the Senate.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie says she’s still talking with Mr Morrison about the income level at which a rise from two per cent to 2.5 will kick in.
“I want the NDIS and I have no problem with the 0.5 per cent, it’s at where do we start,” she told ABC radio on Thursday.
Senator Lambie also doesn’t like the government’s position of having those earning $28,000 a year paying an extra $75 but she believes Labor preferred threshold is too high.
Greens MP Adam Bandt said reports Mr Morrison was confident a deal was imminent was news to the minor party.
“The Medicare levy and any proposed deal haven’t been the subject of discussion in our party room,” he told reporters in Canberra.