It’s hard to believe Mathias Cormann isn’t in the loop when it comes to tax changes.
So when the finance minister says there is no proposal in front of the Turnbull government to change the capital gains tax you tend to believe him.
“I’m not working on any plans, I can assure you,” he told ABC Radio on Monday.
Yet a Liberal colleague insists the government is actively considering tax changes to tackle housing affordability.
John Alexander, whose Sydney seat of Bennelong has the nation’s fastest-growing house prices, said people ought to “listen very carefully” when the prime minister says he has no plans to change the capital gains tax.
“Are we working on plans? Yes we are,” the MP says.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she is open to looking at potential tax changes to improve housing affordability, an issue the federal government has made a key focus of this year’s budget.
Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh says most economists will say you have to tackle tax concessions to ease housing pressures.
“Yet the government says they won’t tackle negative gearing, and who knows what’s happening with capital gains,” he told Sky News.
But Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insists housing supply remains the key to resolve this complex issue.
One issue the government is pursuing is looking at vehicles to get more finance into affordable and social housing.
“There’s is no doubt there are not-for-profits and others who are looking to deliver affordable housing for vulnerable Australians,” Assistant Minister for Social Services Zed Seselja told Sky News.
He also said a $1.3 billion deal struck under the Rudd Labor government to assist states and territories with affordable housing has been a complete failure and needs to be looked at.
“Unfortunately states and territories are spending less than a few years ago,” he said.
Treasurer Scott Morrison reiterated he doesn’t want higher taxes “at all”, even though he warned last week that was a risk in returning the budget to balance after Senate cross benchers opposed his latest omnibus bill which ties an overhaul of childcare fee subsidies to a raft of welfare cuts.
The government’s number one priority was growing the economy to help improve the budget and households and business didn’t need that tax pressure “on the back of their neck”.
The government hasn’t given up on the omnibus bill.
“We are definitely still working on it,” Mr Morrison told Sydney’s 2GB radio.
MPs will return to Canberra next week.