Senior Liberal Christopher Pyne denies the introduction of a deficit levy would be Tony Abbott’s `Julia Gillard moment’, despite a majority of Australians saying it would be a broken promise.
The coalition frontbencher played down the latest Galaxy poll, which showed 72 per cent believe tax hike would represent a broken promise.
Australians know the government will have to make tough decisions to get the budget back on track, he said.
“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.
According to the poll, published by News Corp Australia, the Abbott government is facing a voter backlash over a possible new debt tax on those earning more than $80,000.
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.
The government has yet to confirm the deficit levy will be included in the May 13 budget.
But the prime minister has said any levy would be temporary, and therefore wouldn’t break an election promise not to increase taxes.
Mr Pyne denied a levy would be Mr Abbott’s `Julia Gillard moment’ – a reference to the former prime minister’s broken promise on the carbon tax.
“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.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would oppose a deficit levy, and 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.
However, the Labor leader did back a clampdown on gold passes that give free travel to retired politicians.
Treasurer Joe Hockey has hinted the life gold pass will be axed, saying his comments about an end to the “age of entitlement” also applied to politicians.
“This gold benefit at the end is a legitimate topic to be identified in the budget,” Mr Shorten said.
“It is appropriate that everyone shares the burden.”
Mr Abbott said the government was paying about $1 billion in interest payments every month, with Labor having left a projected debt of $667 billion.
“That’s dead money that could have been better spent on better services, and if we do nothing it will just get worse,” he said in a statement issued on Sunday.
The budget shouldn’t be about how much Australians had in their pocket, but about the country’s future, he said.
“By all of us chipping in, we can chip away at this legacy of debt,” he said.