Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is sidelining Treasurer Scott Morrison, according to former Labor Treasurer Wayne Swan. He also alleged that the two had fell out in record time. Swan said Turnbull’s act of giving his department aide the responsibility on oversight of tax policy was a snub to Morrison.
“We have got an unprecedented situation at the moment in which the treasurer and Treasury have been sidelined from the government’s policy process,” Swan told reporters on Monday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had given his department head Martin Parkinson, the charge of overseeing the government’s tax policy development. Parkison is a former Treasury Secretary, reports News Corp. The Labor leader has cited it as a signal of PM’s distrust of the Treasurer.
There had been media reports of tensions brewing between Turnbull and Morrison. Some reports suggested that the Prime Minister’s action of pushing the previously secret Treasury modelling into the public was part of it.
Relations between Turnbull and Morrison strained mainly on the tax reform policy. While the Treasurer wanted to go the whole hog with the ambitious reforms, including income tax cuts and a 50 percent hike to the GST, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
However, the Prime Minister is wary of Morrison’s zeal on tax reform. He is concerned about Morrison’s actions, which may put the government in discomfort if the reform is politically untenable.
Turnbull’s new treasury modelling blunts the projections of Morrison with regard to the GST and showed no tangible economic gains flowing from a hike.
Later on their differences expanded to the scandal that engulfed the sacked human services minister Stuart Robert. Morrison advised the Prime Minister not to buckle under pressure in sacking the Queensland conservative, who is considered close to Morrison.
Turnbull went his way by accepting the view formed by his aide Parkinson that Robert’s share holdings were “inconsistent” with his ministerial standards. Labor had accused Robert of violating ministerial standards by accompanying a millionaire donor of the Labor Party to China in 2014.
However, friction between prime ministers and treasurers is quite common in Australian politics. Despite Paul Keating and then prime minister Bob Hawke having a strained relation, the duo could pull off many big scale reforms in the Australian economy.