Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is panicking over the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has said.
The Federal Government has not ruled out an increase in the GST to 15 per cent as part of review of the country’s tax system.
Changes to the GST account for half of the eight options for tax reform modelled by Treasury.
Four of the options involve tax increases and broadening the tax base, sparking a nationwide tour by Mr Shorten in opposition to any increases.
Senator Cormann dismissed the “rule-out game”, and said the tax reform process was ongoing.
He told the ABC the government was focussing on making the tax system “more growth friendly”.
“It is very important for the Australian community and for the government with state and territory governments — and other business and community stakeholders — to have an open conversation about how our tax system can be further improved,” Senator Cormann said.
“We understand that Bill Shorten is in a bit of a panic, and he thinks that he needs to go into this ‘rule-out, rule-out, rule-out’ game.”
Negotiations with the state and territory governments are ongoing ahead of a March deadline.
Senator Cormann said the government would not rule anything out until a final decision had been made.
“Before the next election, we will reach a landing point,” he said.
“We will make a decision about the best way forward and we will put that to the Australian people at the next election.”
A number of other senior Liberals have accused Mr Shorten of irresponsible comments and knee-jerk negativity over the process, but he previously said that Labor would “win the argument” on tax.