Finance Minister and Leader of the Government in the Senate Mathias Cormann at a press conference earlier today announcing that the Turnbull Government was shelving its proposed company tax cut plan until after the Super Saturday by-elections on July 28th. Cormann confirmed he had failed to gain enough crossbench support for the package which would reduce the company tax rate for all companies to 25% by 2027.
Cormann who has earned the nickname “The Negotiator” due to his success in negotiating with the constantly fractured Senate crossbench and is normally unflappable in his public appearance let his frustration boil over during the press conference and lost his temper.
His anger was directed at One Nation whose leader Pauline Hanson recently reversed her support for the company tax cut package. Cormann who had already been successful in getting former One Nation Senator Brian Burston to break ranks had attempted to peel off another One Nation Senator in Peter Georgiou.
Cormann pointed out polling that had been done in Longman which showed that One Nation supporters were in favour of the company tax cuts “There was a poll in the Australian not long ago that showed more than 60% of One Nation voters supported a lower business tax rate for all businesses across Australia”. Adding “Today, I’m reading in the Courier Mail that 66.9% of One Nation voters in that seat support a lower, globally more competitive business tax rate for all businesses. That was even higher than the support among Liberal voters. More One Nation voters in Longman are supporting a lower, globally more competitive business tax rate than Liberal voters”.
Cormann then went out on a limb to say that the Super Saturday by-elections would be a referendum on the Coalition and Labor’s respective economic plans “The byelections will be a referendum on who has the better plan for a stronger economy and more jobs. After the byelections, who knows? We might have a more business-friendly Labor leader. All sorts of things could be different on the other side of the byelections”. This is risky given that if Labor retains Longman and Braddon then Cormann’s words can then be interpreted as a vote of no confidence in the Government’s agenda.
After obtaining a significant victory last week with the passing of their three stage seven year income tax cuts Cormann’s outburst today clearly shows the Turnbull Government is in a state of frustration. This is only after Bill Shorten made a captain’s call promising to repeal the already existing company tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses which alarmed the business community. It is clear after today’s showing from Cormann that the tax battle between the major parties will continue not just up to Super Saturday but to the next election.