Turnbull Says `No Fistful of Dollars' in Australia's May Budget

  • Comments come after poll shows government trailing opposition
  • Budget to include tax changes to boost jobs, growth: Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised to hand down a prudent budget next month, speaking less than a week after a major opinion poll showed the government trailing the opposition for the first time since he deposed Tony Abbott seven months ago.

“This budget will not be about a fistful of dollars, it will be about prudence, fairness and responsibility to our future generations,” Turnbull said in a speech to the Victorian Liberal Party conference in Melbourne on Saturday. It will “include changes to our tax system designed to generate jobs and growth; promote investment, innovation and enterprise.”

Malcolm Turnbull
Malcolm Turnbull
Photographer: Mark Graham/Bloomberg

The latest Newspoll survey published in The Australian newspaper on April 5 showed the Liberal-National coalition falling behind the Labor Party on a two-party preferred basis, 49 percent to 51 percent. Turnbull’s personal approval rating also slipped to a new low of 38 percent, down from a high of 60 percent last November. The poll is a blow for Turnbull, who used poor opinion polls as a reason for ousting his predecessor.

Since then Turnbull has been destabilized by policy setbacks including the shelving of tax reform, plus a string of ministerial resignations. Constant sniping over the government’s perceived lack of direction from an unforgiving Abbott also hasn’t helped matters, with Turnbull now facing the challenge of jump starting momentum for his government ahead of a possible early election.

Turnbull, 61, has vowed to hold a double-dissolution election for July 2 -- in which both houses of parliament are up for grabs -- if the Senate refuses to pass legislation aimed at curbing trade union influence.

Within Means

The prime minister said Saturday that federal and state governments need to live within their means, after regional leaders recently rejected a suggestion from Turnbull that they levy income taxes to fund education and healthcare outlays.

The premiers don’t want to raise taxes to pay for their spending, “well neither do we,” Turnbull said.

“The only way to ensure we have great jobs in the future, to ensure we have the revenues that will enable us to deliver great schools and great hospitals, is to have a strong and successful economy,” he said. “Excessive taxes, excessive debt, serve as a handbrake on economic growth.

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