Australian government accelerates tax cuts to sweeten souring polls

SYDNEY, Oct 11 (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday his government will bring forward proposed tax cuts for small businesses by five years, as his coalition seeks to regain voter support ahead of an election next year.

Australian lawmakers earlier this year passed legislation that would cut taxes for businesses with a turnover of less than A$50 million ($35.33 million) to 25 percent, down from 27.5 percent, from 2026.

But after dumping a widely unpopular plan to cut all corporate taxes by 2.5 percent, Morrison said his government will now accelerate its plan.

"This change will help to ensure Australian businesses are competitive, to protect our economy and jobs," Morrison said in an emailed statement.

The change will require approval from Australia's parliament, where Morrison's government lacks a majority. Several independent lawmakers have said they will back the move.

Accelerating tax cuts is widely seen as an attempt to boost the government's appeal ahead of the next election.

Morrison must call an election by May 2019, though political polls indicate the government is on course for a heavy election defeat.

Morrison also faces a critical by-election this month to replace former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who resigned from parliament after losing the leadership in a party-room ballot in August.

Should the government lose the affluent electorate of Wentworth, a traditionally safe Liberal seat that stretches from Bondi Beach to Sydney Harbour, Morrison would then have to strike a new agreement with the independents to continue in a minority government.

($1 = 1.4154 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry)

2018-10-11 02:15:32

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