Education Minister Christopher Pyne has brushed aside the notion the Coalition would be breaking an election promise if it introduced a deficit levy in the upcoming budget.
Responding to a Galaxy Poll that found 72 per cent of surveyed voters think a deficit levy would be a broken promise, Mr Pyne said the budget needed to be “right for the country”.
Voters' backlash over Abbott's 'broken promise'
Voters have savaged Prime Minister Tony Abbott's deficit tax plan as a "broken promise" that could cost him the next election. Nine News.
“Of course I can’t comment on what will be in the budget,” he told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday, “but what I can say is that, whatever we do has to be fair for all”.
The Education Minister, who is one of the most senior members of the government, continued to fuel speculation the government is preparing to introduce the new tax in the budget on May 13, despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott pledging before the election that there would be no new taxes if he were elected.
When asked if a debt levy was “Tony Abbott’s ‘Julia Gillard moment' ” – given her broken pledge there would be no carbon tax under her government – Mr Pyne replied firmly, “no, it’s not”.
“As a politician of 21 years standing, I think I know the Australian public pretty well and I think they full understand that we are going to have to make the tough decisions necessary [to fix the economy].”
The Galaxy Poll also suggested the Coalition would lose an election, if one were held today. The poll, commissioned by News Corp, has Labor clearly leading the Coalition, 52 to 48 per cent, two-party-preferred.
This is a similar result to a Fairfax Nielsen poll last month, which also had Labor ahead, 52 to 48 per cent.
A defiant Mr Pyne described the Labor opposition as “like a drunk driver who has hit five parked cars and insists on being given the keys back”.
The Education Minister and Leader of the Government in the House also backed Mr Abbott’s announcement last week that he would lower the income cap on his “signature” paid parental leave policy, dropping it from $150,000 to $100,000.
Mr Pyne described the “modest adjustment” as “commonsense,” given the Coalition’s attempts to rein in government spending.
He also suggested the government was seriously considering introducing a GP co-payment in the budget, after the idea was recommended by the Commission of Audit last Thursday.
“We train our doctors, they are extremely expensive to train … and yet going to the doctor can cost a patient absolutely nothing,” he said.
The Galaxy Poll showed that Labor’s primary vote remained unchanged – at 37 per cent – since a similar poll a month ago. The Greens’ primary vote has improved slightly from 10 per cent to 11 per cent, while Palmer United has ticked up from four per cent to 6 per cent.
The poll was taken between April 30 and May 1 and results are based on the opinions of 1391 voters.
On Sunday it was also reported that are rumblings in the cabinet room over the proposed deficit levy, with senior Liberals, including deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, holding reservations about the planned tax.
Cabinet will meet again on Wednesday ahead of the budget on May 13.