'No votes’ in Turnbull's company tax cuts: Tony Abbott


Former prime minister Tony Abbott says the government's business tax cuts are not cutting through to voters, instead urging his government to reduce immigration

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has declared there are "no votes" in the Turnbull government's promised  tax cuts for businesses after the Coalition failed to win a seat in the Super Saturday by-elections. 

Mr Abbott's comments came just hours after finance minister Mathias Cormann promised another attempt at passing the cuts through the Senate in mid-August. 

"There are no votes in company tax cuts," Mr Abbott told Sydney radio station 2GB on Monday. 

The backbencher went on to say he supported the economic arguments for lowering company tax, but said the policy was clearly not supported by voters.

The government should pursue more popular policies, Mr Abbott said, such as pulling out of the Paris agreement on climate change and cutting back on annual immigration. 

Mr Abbott is the first in the Coalition to openly question the policy in the wake of the Super Saturday poll, despite many other unnamed Coalition MPs expressing similar sentiment in media reports on Monday. 

The cuts have been a signature economic policy of the Turnbull government since the 2016 election. They would see all businesses taxed at 25 percent instead of 30 percent. 

The government has already secured the cuts for small and medium businesses with a turnover up to $50 million but has so far been unable to convince the Senate to extend the reduction to larger firms. 

"Our intention would be to bring the legislation on for a vote in the next sitting fortnight," Senator Cormann told ABC Radio on Monday morning. 

"We are absolutely committed to this plan. It's critically important." 

Malcolm Turnbull on Sunday said he remained committed to securing a "competitive company tax rate”, but said there were lessons to learn from the Coalition's failure to win back any of the five seats in Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia contested over the weekend. 

"We will look very seriously and thoughtfully and humbly at the way in which the voters have responded," Mr Turnbull said. 

Attacks on the corporate tax plan were a key feature of Labor's campaign messaging in the leadup to the by-elections, accusing the Coalition of prioritising tax cuts for "big banks" over improved funding for public hospitals. The government points out that hospital funding increased in recent annual budgets. 

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said Mr Turnbull should resign if one of his central economic promises from the 2016 election was never delivered. 

"If Mr Turnbull drops the company tax cuts for the big end of town, he should go with them," Mr Shorten said. 

"I thought they were always a silly idea, but he's made it his signature economic policy."

The marginal Queensland seat of Longman and the Tasmanian seat of Braddon remained in Labor hands, despite months of Liberal campaigning.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said the ALP framed the by-elections as a choice between "hospitals and the big banks", taking aim at the government's plan to cut taxes for Australia's biggest businesses.

"[If Mr Turnbull is] just going to keep offering us more of the same, well then I think he'll pay an electoral price for that," he said.

Mr Turnbull said Labor had told "outrageous lies" about health cuts in Longman and he said the Coalition had to counter that approach.

The result in Longman also gives Labor hope it can win seats in Queensland at the next federal election.

Susan Lamb's Longman win, with an expected 54.5 percent of the two-party preferred vote, came on the back of a One Nation drain of LNP votes.

A similar swing at a general election could threaten senior government figures, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

But secret Liberal National Party polling shows Mr Dutton would hold onto his Queensland seat of Dickson with 52 percent of the two-party vote.

"Dutton is in a strong position, there is good fundraising support and we have a formidable campaign team,'' an LNP insider told The Australian.

- with AAP

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