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Tony Abbott has promised to outline detailed plans for “have-a-go” income tax cuts to address bracket creep in coming months that he will take to the next election.
The Prime Minister has endorsed the case for tax relief outlined by Treasurer Joe Hockey earlier this week, declaring the personal income tax system is putting “a handbrake on economic growth”.
He is set to press the case for tax relief in at least two more appearance in Western Australia before the Canning by election on September 19.
Behind in the national polls, Mr Abbott needs the Coalition to retain the seat to shore up confidence in his leadership among Coalition MPs.
Mr Abbott told Fairfax Media that too many Australians were being discouraged from working more, earning more and investing more by the harmful effects of bracket creep and high marginal tax rates.
“We will have more to say about keeping taxes low in the lead-up to the election, but bracket creep is a problem and that is why Joe was absolutely right to put it on the agenda on Monday,” Mr Abbott said.
“We want to help hard-working Australians. It’s in our DNA.”
Mr Abbott has been in almost daily contact with the Treasurer during his week in remote Indigenous communities in Torres Strait and near the tip of Cape York.
Addressing reporters, he played down Mr Hockey’s involvement in a parliamentary group supporting a republic, saying: “Joe is leading a push to make Australia a stronger and more competitive economy. I am proud of the work he’s done. I’m proud of the work he’s doing.
“Lower taxes, less regulation, higher productivity, that’s what we are on about every single day and that obviously is Joe’s overwhelming focus.”
Mr Abbott told Fairfax that in the next two years, without action, about 300,000 Australians will move into the second highest tax bracket.
“And in 10 years, without tax reform, almost half of all taxpayers will be in the top two tax brackets, a jump from 27 per cent to 43 per cent,” he said.
“Australia needs a tax system that rewards hard work and sends a simple message: “Have a go!’ We will be laying out more details on our plan for Australia’s tax system over the coming months.”
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has said Mr Hockey’s tax cut plans are”all talk” and questioned how the Coalition would fund them. “That’s exactly what was promised prior to the 2013 election,” Mr Bowen said.
Mr Hockey said earlier this week that the forthcoming options paper on tax reform — which the government plans to present to voters before the election — will “include options for personal income tax cuts”.
But Mr Abbott’s comments go further, suggesting the government will give detail of tax relief by early next year.