Turnbull pledges ‘fairness’ in economic reform

Malcolm Turnbull has pledged a change in direction
Malcolm Turnbull has pledged a change in direction Cade Mooney

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised "fairness" will be an "absolutely critical" part of his economic reform agenda.

Mr Turnbull on Wednesday set out the broad aims of his government on the economy in a speech to the Melbourne Institute's national reform summit.

After his predecessor Tony Abbott's government was roundly criticised for the 2014 budget, deemed 'unfair", Mr Turnbull has pledged a change in direction.

He told the conference his government's aim for Australia was to have a "high-wage, generous social welfare net, first-world economy".

Mr Turnbull said that "above all" he wanted an economy that was fair both to "those who want to get ahead, and those who, for whatever reason, are not able to do so".

While the speech gave an overarching direction to his aims, it detailed no specific proposals, and skirted around the question of a 5% boost to the GST.

That proposal, from Nationals backbencher David Gillespie this week, has divided the Coalition, while Labor, the Greens and community groups have argued against it.

The government is expected to release an "innovation statement" next month with more detail, but has been tight-lipped on any specific tax reform measures.

Instead, Treasurer Scott Morrison has said all ideas were "on the table".

But Mr Turnbull said he wanted a new national "conversation" on economic reforms, and the public was "sick of the blame game".

He said it was not enough to "persuade the public that your motives are good", but the government had to demonstrate decisions had weighed up all the options.

"If a particular policy approach doesn't deliver as required or anticipated, we have to be ready to reappraise it, reset as and when needed so objectives can still be met," he said.

His government was not "trying to reduce complex issues to slogans".

Labor shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said the speech was "platitudes".

Topics:  budget economy malcolm turnbull scott morrison

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