THE Turnbull Government’s strategy of refusing to rule various components of tax reform in or out has advanced the debate a lot more effectively than a green paper ever would, Scott Morrison claims.
In an interview with Sky this morning the Treasurer said he believed he and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s “different approach” had fostered genuine debate across the community.
“We want this debate to progress in a civilised way and I think it has with a few lettuce exceptions here and there,” he said.
“We’ve seen proposals come forward from various different groups; ideas teased out whether it’s on superannuation.
“Now they are not necessarily proposals the government is putting forward but … I think that’s actually conditioning and informing the debate far better than this old style process of big tome documents that’s all brought into one.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has spent the past few weeks visiting supermarkets in marginal electorate talking about the GST.
A memorable moment of the tour was an awkward conversation with a shopper about lettuce.
NOT RULED OUT – OR IN
The government has repeatedly refused to rule any tax reform measures in or out, adopting a mantra that everything remained “on the table” and it would take any proposed changes to the next election.
This includes raising the GST or broadening it to include items such as food, which Labor is strongly opposed to.
Mr Morrison is hoping the election will give the government a “strong mandate” in the Senate to implement economic reform.
“We have a very strong view about how we think we need to grow the Australian economy and that will be laid out in chapter and verse over the months and months that are ahead of this election,” he told Sky News.
Responding to questions about the argument for GST reform, Mr Morrison said substantial changes were needed to overhaul Australia’s economy.
“There are a lot of fairy tales out there that if you just go and do this on multinational (companies), or this, or all of the rest of it, that somehow all of Australia’s problems are solved,” he said.
“All of those things are important and we are looking hard in those areas and doing things in all of those areas.
“But it’s a fantasy for the Opposition or others to say that all you have to do something on multinational tax and somehow you can cut personal income rates; it’s a fantasy.”
Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh called on the government to immediately articulate its tax reform package.
“Australia doesn’t need more ‘dog ate my homework’ excuses from Scott Morrison. Instead the need clear promises,” he said.
“Federal Labor has a clear position. We believe there are fairer ways to make budget savings including getting rid of a slush fund for polluters, including not reinstating the baby bonus, raising superannuation taxes at the very top end, better multinational taxation and increasing the cigarette excise.
“Together those measures give you around $70 billion over the decade without hurting growth, without worsening inequality.”
PERSONAL, COMPANY TAX ‘THE PROBLEM’
Mr Morrison said he was “passionate” about addressing high rates of personal and company tax.
“I have said a lot about personal income tax … I think that together with our high rates of company tax are things that hold the Australian economy back,” he said.
“Bracket creep, or the inflation tax as others like to call it, no one apart from the government is running around saying, ‘you know what who is going to compensate the people who are wage earners next year?’
“They are going to see a higher rate of tax, wage earners next year, if we don’t change the income tax rates. No one is saying well they need to be compensated.”
He gave the strongest indication yet that he’s not in favour of broadening the GST base to include health and education.
“The issues that were present back when the GST was originally introduced around health and education are still there today,” he told Sky.
“They weren’t not put on the GST because of the Senate at the time it was actually a policy decision of the government.
“If the government were to go down that path you’d be looking at the same fundamentals.”