In 2005, Malcolm Turnbull spoke out against negative gearing, labelling it and the capital gains tax (CGT) discount a “sheltering tax haven” and “tax avoidance”, and arguing that it is “skewing national investment away from wealth-creating pursuits, towards housing”.
In a similar vein, Scott Morrison in February this year admitted “there are excesses” in negative gearing and that it had gone too far:
Yet despite them both knowing that negative gearing is a rort, they defended if furiously in the lead-up to the Federal Election, spuriously claiming that reform would “crush” investment, drive a “sledgehammer” through the housing market, would lead to surging rents, and would disadvantage middle-income earners.
Today, the truth has been revealed as to why Turnbull and Morrison performed a backflip on negative gearing: they were rolled by the conservative wing of the Coalition that backed former prime minister Tony Abbott in the September leadership spill, as revealed in a new book co-authored by my cousin Peter van Onselen. From The Australian:
Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison argued in cabinet to tighten negative gearing concessions but were later rolled in a key economic committee by ministerial supporters of Tony Abbott…
In The Turnbull Gamble, the authors reveal the Prime Minister and the Treasurer were “all in favour’’ of making changes to negative gearing but in a “more considered” and “less extreme way” than Labor had.
Asked about the revelations in the book yesterday, a senior source confirmed Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison had been in favour of changes to negative gearing to remove excesses from the system…
In their book, van Onselen and Errington write: “The issue was debated in cabinet, with Peter Dutton, Josh Frydenberg and Christian Porter arguing against making any changes.’’
All three supported Mr Abbott in the leadership ballot that elevated Mr Turnbull to the leadership in September last year…
According to the book, Mr Dutton pointed out the “political value in doing nothing so as to attack Labor’s changes ‘with clean hands’ ’’
Labor shadow treasurer, Chris Bowen, has been quick to jump on the revelation, claiming that Prime Minister Turnbull lacks “moral authority” and economic leadership. From The Canberra Times:
“Now we know Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison agree [with curbing the policy] but they were rolled in the cabinet, the first time a PM and Treasurer had been rolled in the cabinet since 1973,” Mr Bowen told the ABC.
“This is an extraordinary development and Malcolm Turnbull lacks the moral authority to win the economic debate and the political authority within his own cabinet and that is why this government is completely devoid of an agenda, completely devoid of economic leadership.”
Herein lies yet another example of how Prime Minister Turnbull sold his soul, and abandoned the national interest, in order to hold onto power. Can the real Malcolm Turnbull please stand up?