Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne says Australians understand everyone will have to carry the burden of fixing the budget, despite a new poll showing a vast majority oppose a deficit levy.
The Abbott government would lose an election if it were held today, a new Galaxy Poll suggests, as voter backlash mounts over a possible new debt tax on those earning more than $80,000.
According to the poll, published by News Corp Australia, 72 per cent say a tax hike would represent a broken promise.
Two party-preferred support for the coalition has plunged 5.5 percentage points since the September election, with its vote now 48 per cent compared to Labor’s 52 per cent.
Mr Pyne brushed aside the Galaxy poll, saying Australians know the government will have to make tough decisions to improve the budget.
“They know it won’t be easy and it is important that everyone shares in that burden of repairing the damage Labor did to the economy and to the budget,” Mr Pyne told ABC Television on Sunday.
The government has yet to confirm the deficit levy will be included in the May 13 budget.
However, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has said “well-targeted” changes to the tax system are the only way to ensure well-off Australians pay their fair share.
“There is no easy way out from the debt and deficit disaster that Labor’s left us,” Mr Pyne said.
“But what we do has to be fair to everyone, and it has to be right for the country. That’s the job of government.”
Galaxy also found 65 per cent of those polled disagreed with the government’s generous paid parental leave scheme.
Tony Abbott recently announced the wage cap for his signature policy would be reduced to $100,000 a year, from $150,000.
But the national commission of audit, which released its report on Thursday, recommends that should be watered down further to be capped at average annual earnings.
Mr Pyne defended the prime minister’s backflip on the leave scheme.
“Modest adjustments to things like the paid parental leave scheme that is yet to be implemented is only common sense,” he said.
He refused to confirm the government will introduce a GP co-payment in its first budget – a long-mooted measure also recommended by the commission of audit.
But Mr Pyne said Australians understood how costly Medicare was for taxpayers.
“In an economy, putting no value whatsoever on the most expensive service in the economy is a slightly bizarre situation,” he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would oppose a deficit levy, which he claimed would break a pre-election commitment not to introduce new taxes.
He urged the prime minister to drop the tax hike before next week’s budget.
“Increasing taxes on working class and middle class Australians is a terrible mistake, and people will not forgive Mr Abbott for breaking this very big promise,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne.