Coalition MP Teresa Gambaro has fired a rocket at the idea of a new deficit levy, saying that, if one were introduced in next week's budget, it would be a "breach of promise" to voters and criticising her colleagues for not consulting the party room about the proposal.
As cabinet gathers in Canberra on Wednesday to discuss the tax and other budget measures, Ms Gambaro has argued that a levy would hurt the economy and public trust in the government.
Queensland Liberal MP Teresa Gambaro says a ''debt tax'' would be a breach of faith with voters. Photo: Jason Henry
"We went to the Australian people with a promise of being a government of no surprises," the member for Brisbane told Fairfax Media.
"We didn't go to the Australian people with a deficit levy."
Ms Gambaro, who has an economics and business background, said she did not think a deficit levy would deliver any economic benefits.
"I think what it will do is reduce business confidence," she said. "This isn't the way to go."
Ms Gambaro - who has also recently expressed concerns over proposed changes to race-hate laws - joins fellow Coalition backbenchers Warren Entsch, Andrew Broad, Ian Macdonald, Zed Seselja, Cory Bernardi and John Cobb, who have already publicly criticised or questioned the idea of a deficit levy.
She said she had recently written to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey about her views on the budget and had also spoken to Mr Hockey.
She said there needed to be better backbench consultation by the Coalition leadership, pointing out that the proposal for the new tax was not taken to the party room.
"We need to do better than that," she said.
Cabinet ministers have also expressed unhappiness over a new tax, but have not gone on the record with their concerns. As The Australian Financial Review reports, cabinet is split on the idea of the tax, which is reported to be aimed at middle- and high-income earners.
It has been reported that the tax would only target those earning at least $150,000, in a bid to appease concerns that families on lower incomes would be unfairly hit in the budget
On Wednesday, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure Jamie Briggs described Ms Gambaro's comments as "pre-emptive", and said the Queensland MP did not know the detail of the budget.
"I think it would be wise for Teresa to wait until next Tuesday to start expressing views," he told Sky News.
When asked about Ms Gambaro's comments, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said she would not make "any comments about current commentary".
Ms Bishop said there were no "easy choices" when it came to addressing the country's debt levels.
"Whatever we choose to do will be right for the country and it will be fair to everyone."
With her comments on Wednesday, Ms Gambaro also joins other Coalition figures who have voiced their opposition to a deficit levy.
These includes former treasurer Peter Costello and former Howard era ministers Peter Reith and Amanda Vanstone.
Labor, the Greens and the Palmer United Party have all indicated they would block a deficit levy in the Senate.