When Tony Abbott rolled Malcolm Turnbull for the Liberal Party leadership back in 2009, he immediately threw out the constructive negotiations towards an emissions reduction scheme.
“Oppositions are not there to get legislation through,” Abbott intoned, heralding his approach for the next 4 years.
There would be no discussion, no amendments, no working together to improve legislation, no alternatives offered. It would just be NO to everything.
And here we are a decade later with no energy or climate change policy.
So used to this approach did the Coalition become that, when they did finally become the government, they had nothing to offer. They have spent six years still opposing Labor’s ideas.
Our overly generous property tax concessions are a prime example.
In his 2005 tax policy paper, Malcolm Turnbull described negative gearing and the CGT discount as a “sheltering tax haven” that is “skewing national investment away from wealth-creating pursuits, towards housing”, and has caused a “property bubble”. Turnbull also acknowledged that “Australia’s rules on negative gearing are very generous compared to many other countries” and that “the normal deductibility principles do not apply to negatively geared real estate such that the taxpayer is not obliged to demonstrate that the negatively geared property will generate positive cash flow at some point in the distant future”.
In 2014 he said, “Looking at Australia’s tax regime you would say that it is too tough on people earning income…but is incredibly concessional to older people who have made their money…”
When Joe Hockey made his final speech to parliament in 2015, he said: “negative gearing should be skewed towards new housing so that there is an incentive to add to the housing stock rather than an incentive to speculate on an existing property.”
Today, the ABC is reporting that Scott Morrison was also considering reforms regarding tax concessions when he became Treasurer in 2015.
Obtained under freedom of information laws, a senior NSW Treasury official in October 2015 wrote: “The Commonwealth appears more willing to consider broader tax reform.
“The Commonwealth Treasurer has indicated that all options need to be considered, including superannuation, capital gains tax and negative gearing.”
Mr Morrison in February 2016 said there were “excesses” in negative gearing and that the government was considering changes.
So everyone was in agreement that change was necessary, until Labor announced their policy a month later. The Coalition’s reaction was to go to their safe place of just saying NO again.
In his 2009 book Battlelines, Abbott wrote
“The next Liberal government won’t need to assume office with specific policies on all topics down to the last detail. Too much detail can easily give the government material for a scare campaign.”
And that has been their mantra ever since. If you have no policies, no-one can criticise them.
But that isn’t called governing. It’s just a free ride on the gravy train.
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