PM’s tax policy vacuum comes back to bite him

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has rejected Labor's proposals to change capital gains tax discounts as a "wrecking ball swung into an already vulnerable property market", but failed to clarify his own position.

Mr Turnbull faced a censure motion in Question Time in Canberra yesterday after his office late on Monday night seemed to contradict a statement he made to parliament that day.

He told parliament on Monday changes to the CGT tax break was in no way part of the government's "thinking" on tax reform.

But yesterday he seemingly contradicted himself, instead telling parliament he meant to say "the government will not be adopting Labor's proposals to reduce CGT discounts".

Labor proposes limiting negative gearing from 2017 to new homes and halving the 50% CGT discount.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten went on the attack over the issue, putting forward a censure motion against Mr Turnbull for potentially "misleading parliament" on the government's position.

While Mr Turnbull was at pains to point out Labor's policy could affect housing prices, neither he nor Treasurer Scott Morrison has released any specific proposals for tax reform ahead of the May budget.

The government has raised potential changes to both CGT and negative gearing as well as potential changes to end compulsory superannuation contributions to help fund an unspecified cut in personal income tax.

It is also under pressure from groups including the Business Council of Australia and Australian Industry Group to slash company tax rates.

Both Mr Turnbull and Mr Morrison have said everything was on the table, but the absence of specific proposals allowed Labor to sharpen its attack.

Mr Turnbull said increasing housing affordability was "a planning issue, not a money issue", echoing a position put by the Housing Industry Association and Property Council.

He believed Labor's changes could affect the entire housing market by de-valuing existing properties, despite the proposal not affecting existing negatively-geared properties.

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