Federal Politics

SKETCH

Malcolm Turnbull lands on a snake on tax reform

It's a classic game of luck. 

GST backflip?

The Federal Government seems to have gone cold on a GST increase with MPs and the PM looking at other tax changes. Courtesy ABC News 24.

You roll the dice and depending on where you land you may get a boost - or you may get a kick in the teeth. 

As novelist Salman Rushdie wrote, "for every ladder you climb, a snake is waiting just around the corner". 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Christopher Pyne visited Mother Teresa Early Learning Centre in Canberra on ...
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister Christopher Pyne visited Mother Teresa Early Learning Centre in Canberra on Monday. Photo: Andrew Meares

But Snakes and Ladders isn't just a board game for little kids.

Politicians play it all the time in Canberra. 

On Monday morning, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull journeyed to the northern reaches of the national capital to the Mother Teresa preschool in Harrison. 

With Innovation Minister Christopher Pyne, he came to announce $8 million for maths and science programs for children before they go to school.  

"Who's winning?": children at the centre play Snakes and Ladders.
"Who's winning?": children at the centre play Snakes and Ladders. Photo: Andrew Meares

Amid sandpits and fake grass, the Prime Minister and Pyne met with clusters of kids who were demonstrating what could be done with such funds. 

One group was making rockets out of magnets; another team was whisking detergent-filled water to make bubbles. 

Mr Turnbull faced questions from media on the GST at the visit.
Mr Turnbull faced questions from media on the GST at the visit. Photo: Andrew Meares

But the MPs were particularly taken by a plastic mat spread on the ground where a game of Snakes and Ladders was underway. 

"Who's winning? That's what we always want to know," Pyne asked the kids, who appeared much more interested in wriggling than the fact that two of the most powerful politicians in the land were taking an interest in their development. 

Undeterred, Turnbull corrected a four-year-old about what "two" meant, while Pyne instructed another boy to "stick with me" if he wanted to get to the top of the board. 

And then they moved on learn how to filter water and count blocks.  

When the PM and his minister had finished observing small children being educated, they fronted the media, where questioning immediately turned to the GST. 

"You seem to be crab-walking away from the idea? Is it on or off the table?" 

So Turnbull launched into a lengthy, crustacean-like response where he talked generally about reform, the states, "growth" and how no one was in agreement "at all" about what should be done. 

"Changing the tax system ... does not of itself require a change to the GST," he added. 

"As to what we're doing, we are not interested in a change for change's sake exercise." 

In other words, when it comes to tax reform, the government is back to square one.

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