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Prime Minister Turnbull Floats Tax Cuts Ahead Of Election

Malcolm Turnbull has raised the prospect of income tax cuts for middle-income earners as he tries to push beyond the political headaches plaguing his government.

The prime minister and and Treasurer Scott Morrison have also taken the unusual step of urging business chiefs to do more in support of their plan to slash company taxes.

Mr Turnbull primarily used a keynote address to the Business Council of Australia on Monday night to prosecute the case for cutting corporate rates.

However, he spoke also of the need to increase the disposable incomes of Australian workers, highlighting recent efforts to reshuffle tax thresholds and scrap the deficit levy on big earners.

"In the personal income space, I am actively working with the treasurer and my cabinet colleagues to ease the burden on middle-income Australians, while also meeting our commitment to return the budget to surplus," he said.

On the latter point, the Turnbull government has fallen out of favour with some sectors of the business community over its decisions in recent months.

Mr Turnbull acknowledged the major bank levy contained in this year's budget "brought us no joy" but argued it was necessary to repair federal finances.

Of his intervention in the gas market, he said: "I defy anyone to argue that ideological purity is more important than addressing soaring energy costs."

But Mr Turnbull warned company chiefs of the risk of falling behind the rest of the world on business taxes.

"If we don't reduce our corporate rate to 25 per cent as planned over the coming decade, the only advanced nations that will exceed Australia are Japan and Malta," he said.

Treasurer Scott Morrison has written to hundreds of corporate leaders, insisting they cannot afford to sit on the fence when it comes to the government's enterprise tax plan.

The government has so far legislated a tax cut for businesses with turnovers of up to $50 million, leaving the remainder on a rate of 30 per cent.

Further cuts face a roadblock in the Senate with Labor and the Greens opposed to the full plan.

"We are not going to give multinationals a reduction in their tax. We don't think that's the way to go," Mr Shorten said on Monday.

"We would rather look after ordinary people than give the top end of town a tax cut."

AAP

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