Tony Abbott has refused to respond to reports that the government will announce a debt levy in the May budget, but instead promised to be fair and equitable when meting out some of the tougher measures.
Mr Abbott said the government wouldn’t “squib the challenge” of fixing the budget, when asked if the coalition would soon introduce what Labor has dubbed a “deceit tax”.
Based on the Queensland flood levy, reports by News Corporation said a “one off” impost on high-income earners would be a feature of Treasurer Joe Hockey’s May budget.
Mr Abbott repeated his mantra that he would not rule anything in or out of the May 13 budget when asked about the latest speculation.
But he said the coalition had committed to fixing the “fiscal disaster” left by the Labor government.
“Now we are going to do it in ways which are faithful to the commitments that we made to the Australian people,” the prime minister said on Sunday.
“We will do it in ways which are fair, which are equitable, and which I believe will be seen to be fair by the Australian people.”
Labor said the levy would breach a pre-election pledge not to impose new taxes on the Australian public.
“Make no mistake, this will be the biggest broken promise of all,” shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said.
“Tony Abbott told the Australian people he would cut taxes and he specifically said he would introduce no new taxes.”
Tony Abbott told the Australian people he would cut taxes and he specifically said he would introduce no new taxes
Mr Bowen accused Mr Hockey of creating a “conflated budget emergency”.
“But that doesn’t justify a tax on Australian families who would pay the cost for this breach of promise from Tony Abbott,” he said.
But Mr Abbott said the government would keep its election commitments.
“A very important commitment was to get the budget back on track to a sustainable surplus, but we will do that in ways which keep faith with our commitments to the Australian people in the election campaign,” he said.
The levy is the latest unpopular measure mooted to be in Mr Hockey’s first budget.
Since the beginning of the year the government has been forced to fend off concerns it may introduce a GP co-payment.
Last week the treasurer said an increase in the pension age was an “inevitability”, but stopped short of confirming the budget will lift it to 70.
Clive Palmer on Sunday said he wouldn’t support lifting the pension age, when the Palmer United Party along with other crossbenchers hold the balance of power in the Senate.
“I just couldn’t employ Joe Hockey or Tony Abbott at 69, no matter how competent they are,” Mr Palmer told ABC Television.