Daily BulletinHoliday Centre

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor

When you are Malcolm Turnbull floundering in the heavy seas of tax reform, it is perhaps unfortunate that the 20th anniversary of the election of the Howard government has come around at this particular moment.

John Howard has reached near demigod status in the Liberal Party, second only to Robert Menzies. His biggest economic reform was the introduction of the GST, which naturally has him seen as the tax guru. At the time the change was fraught, and could easily have taken the government’s life. Looking back, the achievement stands out, the difficulties fade.

In his weekend interviews Howard had two pertinent messages on tax. The first was that the issue of the tax “mix” will eventually have to be revisited.

Turnbull has already retreated from the option of raising the GST to pay for mega tax cuts. But Howard doubted that “it’s snuffed out forever”, saying that for the “medium to longer term” the mix needed to be revisited.

Potentially this can feed into an ALP scare campaign claiming that while the GST might be off the table for now, a re-elected Turnbull government could put it back on.

On negative gearing, Howard was concerned about an escalation of rents and about hitting the nest eggs of people on modest incomes. Coalition backbenchers who are urging Turnbull not to fiddle with negative gearing will seize on Howard’s cautioning – although what the government appears to be considering would probably only affect richer investors.

Turnbull on Sunday said he had had “a long chat with John about negative gearing and other aspects of tax only yesterday. … He’s obviously a great source of advice”.

The Prime Minister shouldn’t need much advice to know he’ll need to put on the hard hat as the government on Monday goes into another character- building parliamentary week.

As talk swirls about a possible double dissolution for July 2, already skittish Coalition backbenchers are likely to be increasingly anxious about the shape of the tax blueprint.

The inclination, according to some government sources, is now to put out a comprehensive package on tax before the budget.

But other sources are more qualified, saying while something will be released prior to the budget, how much and in what form is not yet clear.

Turnbull told News Corp in a statement: “The government’s approach is to work carefully through all the elements in the tax system … That work will be completed shortly and the results will be announced in the lead-up to the Budget."

The expenditure review committee is due to consider the tax package early next week. Rather strangely, considering how much pressure is on, both Treasurer Morrison – who eschewed travel abroad in his first days in the portfolio - and Treasury head John Fraser were overseas in the last few days.

Howard was not the only one out and about in the tax debate at the weekend. Tony Abbott, in an extract of an essay defending his government’s record to be published in the March issue of Quadrant, wrote that he was confident he could have won this year on a program of budget savings and lower tax.

“In September last year, the Abbott government was just beginning the election policy process. The likelihood is that we would have gone to the election seeking a mandate to reduce or eliminate some of the one-off payments that seemed defensible with surpluses of $20bn but not with deficits of $40bn; and further to tighten eligibility for ongoing payments. … With further budget savings in place, I was confident that there could be income tax cuts during the next term of parliament.”

On Wednesday night in Parliament’s Great Hall the Liberal faithful will gather to honour John Howard and his government. Privately, quite a few backbenchers will be making comparisons with his successors. Tony Abbott will be among those on the main table. It will be a night requiring from past and present leaders a certain facility for walking on eggshells. Just like the tax package.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/john-howard-complicates-malcolm-turnbulls-tax-problems-55488


The Conversation


Closing the Gap Statement to Parliament

Mr Speaker, when we meet in this place, we are on Ngunnawal country. I give my thanks and pay my respects to our Ngunnawal elders, past, present and importantly emerging for our future. I honour...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Alan Jones

ALAN JONES: Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Alan.    JONES: I was just thinking last night when we're going to talk to you today, you must feel as though you've ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Prime Minister Bridget McKenzie press conference

PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon everybody. The good news is that the Qantas flight is on its way to Wuhan and I want to thank everybody for their cooperation, particularly the Chinese Government as...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Is Hiring a Corporate Lawyer for Your Company Necessary?

Alternative online legal services like LegalZoom, Incfile, and Rocket Lawyer provides young and budding entrepreneurs access to legal help at a much affordable price without having to hire or meet a l...

Joe Curmi - avatar Joe Curmi

Top 5 Green Marketing Ideas for Your Eco-Friendly Small Business

According to studies, about 33 percent of consumers prefer buying from brands that care about their impact on the environment. This is good news for anyone running an eco-friendly business. It’s a...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Choosing the Right Coworking Space For Your Business

As the capital of Victoria in Australia, Melbourne is inhabited by millions of people and is known as one of the most liveable cities in the world. The latter is due to the city’s diverse community...

Sarah Williams - avatar Sarah Williams


Travelling With Pets? Here Is What You Should Know

Only a pet parent can understand the dilemma one experiences while planning a vacation. Do you leave your pets at home?  Will you get a pet sitter or someone to take care of them while you are away?...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Be a Smart Frugal Traveller

You are looking through Instagram, watching story after story of your followers overseas at a beach in Santorini, walking through the piazza in Italy, and eating a baguette in front of the Eiffel ...

News Company - avatar News Company


Graduation is the stage of life when a student receives the rewards of hard work of years. It must have taken sleepless nights and tiring days to achieve the task. Now, as you have received your cov...

News Company - avatar News Company