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The worrying signs Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers are ‘at war’ – as PM goes into damage control over bungled super policy – and Australia prepares for a ‘tough’ Budget

  • Labor has denied a rift between the PM and Treasurer 
  • Coalition questioned if the pair were ‘at war’ over tax policy
  • Govt frontbenchers have denied rumours they’re feuding
  • Aussies warned May Budget will be ‘tough’ 

A day of political stumbles on tax policy has the government denying concerns there is a rift between Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers.

The prime minister was forced to mop up after his treasurer on Wednesday when Dr Chalmers repeatedly declined to categorically rule out any future changes to the capital gains tax exemption on the family home.

Dr Chalmers later backed down and conceded he should have done so during his morning TV trainwreck. He eventually went further declaring tax reforms Labor took to the 2019 election, such as franking credits and negative gearing, would not be reheated.

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But by Thursday, the Coalition had seized on the confusion and questioned whether the two men were ‘at war’.

The government has denied rumours there is a rift between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer

The government has denied rumours there is a rift between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer 

‘We’ve got a Treasurer at war with the Prime Minister, a Prime Minister who’s openly overruling his Treasurer. Look, it’s schoolyard stuff,’ deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley told ABC’s RN.

But government frontbenchers were quick to deny the pair, who share a birthday on Thursday, were openly feuding with each other.

‘They’re good friends and they’ve got a terrific working relationship,’ frontbencher Tanya Plibersek said, laughing, when asked on Sky News.

She recalled the pair had been in good spirits during a cabinet meeting earlier this week where the prime minister ‘thanked Jim’ for his hard work on the superannuation tax concession proposal.

‘They’re on the same page because what we’re proposing is a small, modest, necessary change to start to deal with the trillion dollars of debt that the Liberals left for Australian taxpayers,’ Ms Plibersek added.

The Coalition had questioned whether Mr Albanese and Dr Chalmers were feuding over tax reforms

The Coalition had questioned whether Mr Albanese and Dr Chalmers were feuding over tax reforms 

Environment minister Tanya Plibersek (pictured) was one of several frontbenchers that denied there was a feud, saying the pair are 'good friends' with a 'terrific working relationship'

Environment minister Tanya Plibersek (pictured) was one of several frontbenchers that denied there was a feud, saying the pair are ‘good friends’ with a ‘terrific working relationship’

Superannuation has become the latest flashpoint for the government after it announced tax on super earnings for balances more than $3m would double from 15 per cent to 30 per cent in two years.

The change will initially affect 80,000 people, or 0.05 per cent of Australians, but the Treasurer has declined to say how many workers above that figure would be hit with the higher tax in the decades to come.

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Opposition finance spokesman Jane Hume conceded while ‘there is not a lot of sympathy out there for people with balances of more than $3m’, the government should be upfront about its future impact.

‘How many people will it capture in two years’ time?’ she questioned on Nine’s Today show.

‘Who will fall into the net in five years, 10 years, 20 years because that $3 million hasn’t been indexed?’

Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones has also warned the federal budget in May will be ‘tough’.

‘There’ll be spending cuts, there’ll be things that we have to do to ensure that we bring the budget onto a sustainable footing,’ he told Sky News Australia.

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