Backbenchers happy with PM’s tax process

Coalition backbenchers are throwing their support behind the government’s handling of the tax reform process after reports suggested some were getting antsy about the time it is taking.


Liberal Andrew Nikolic insists a strategic process is under way.

“The last thing we should be doing is trotting out a new announcement for every six hours of the media cycle,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

Colleague Ewen Jones agreed, saying policy can’t be done “on the run” while Craig Kelly said reform was an “ongoing process”.

Former prime minister John Howard weighed into the debate surrounding how property investors should be taxed over the weekend, saying the government needs to tread carefully when it comes to negative gearing.

Treasurer Scott Morrison insisted the government is being very careful.

“We are not going to rush to the crazy idea Labor have put up,” he told Sydney’s 2GB radio.

Labor has proposed limiting negative gearing to newly-built properties.

Reports have suggested the government is considering putting a $20,000 cap on the amount investors can offset against their tax liability from other incomes.

According to modelling commissioned by News Corp, that would affect 16,000-20,000 people and raise only several hundred million dollars over the four-year budget estimates.

However, a bolder cap of $10,000 would hit around 300,000 people and claw back between $2 billion and $3 billion over the forward estimates.

“I hope the Daily Telegraph didn’t pay too much for that advice,” Mr Morrison said.

“All these numbers get thrown around … we have made it clear we are considering all the options.”

Nationals MP Andrew Broad warned more people will be at risk of becoming homeless in regional towns if Labor implements its plan.

The property and rental markets in country towns will face a huge hit if negative gearing is restricted to only newly-constructed houses as it was already difficult to get people to invest in rural properties, he said.

Former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan said the prime minister and treasurer have set a land speed record for falling out with each other after reports Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has given his department head Martin Parkinson, a former Treasury secretary, oversight of the government’s tax policy.

“We have got an unprecedented situation at the moment in which the treasurer and Treasury have been sidelined from the government’s policy process,” Mr Swan told reporters.

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