Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull refused to rule a GST hike in or out in an interview with ABC 7.30, saying he wanted to shift the “paradigm” away from gotcha moments and towards a more “rational” style.
In his first interview with presenter Leigh Sale since becoming prime minister, Mr Turnbull managed to duck the more specific policy questions, keeping the subject matter general and optimistic in tone.
When asked whether he planned to broaden or raise the GST, he responded: “Tax reform is going to be a big part of our reform agenda going forward. That’s why we’ve brought the tax minister, the Assistant Treasurer, Kelly O’Dwyer into the Cabinet.”
When asked to elaborate, he said: “I’m not going to rule things in or rule things out. This is one of the the Canberra games. One of the things I’m trying to do is to change the paradigm so that that it’s a more rational one.”
Ms Sales went on to quiz him on his professed support of direct action on carbon emissions, given he has in the past been a passionate advocate of emissions trading schemes.
He responded: “Well, look, it [direct action] works. The real objective of climate change policy is to cut your emissions. There are many different roads you can go down.”
He said the Emission Reductions Fund – the key component of direct action – had been been “very successful so far”, adding: “It has cut about 47 million tonnes of emissions at a price of less than $14 tonne.”
On national security, Mr Turnbull gave a quick nod to the threat of terrorism, including ISIS (or “Daesh” as he called it), then focused his attention on China.
“I think in terms of our region, what we need to ensure is that the rise of China, which is happening, nothing’s going to stop that any time soon, is, if you like, conducted in a manner that does not disturb the security and the relative harmony of the region upon which China’s prosperity depends. Now, that requires careful diplomacy.”
When asked to define the values at the core of his government, Mr Turnbull said: “Well, this is a Liberal/National government. It is a free-market government. It is committed to ensuring that Australians are free to choose their own directions, whether it’s in their business or their profession or their family. So freedom is the key point.”
Reflecting on his own journey, from being ousted by Tony Abbott in 2009, to ousting him back six years later, Mr Turnbull said he had learnt a lot.
“An experience like that, it either makes you or it breaks you. And you can come out of that sort of reforged, regalvanised as a wiser, better person.”
Mr Turnbull confirmed that he and his wife Lucy would continue to “sleep” in their Sydney mansion, but would use the Prime Minister’s official Sydney residence Kirribilli House for formal receptions.