A federal government MP has accused the prime minister, treasurer and cabinet of failing to communicate with backbenchers.
One of Tony Abbott’s Queensland MPs says the prime minister and his treasurer Joe Hockey are poor communicators who aren’t listening to their backbench.
Brisbane MP Teresa Gambaro has written to Mr Abbott to express concerns, which she says are shared by other backbenchers.
She says some feel Mr Abbott, Mr Hockey and cabinet in general are not doing enough to stay in touch with members of their own party.
She was not consulted on the proposed plan to slap a debt levy on high earners – something she says would break the prime minister’s promise not to introduce new taxes.
She also wasn’t consulted about Mr Abbott’s paid maternity leave scheme, which she considers too generous despite it being wound back.
Asked about other Queensland MPs who share her view, Ms Gambaro told ABC radio: “I’m sure there are a few that are probably not happy at the lack of communication and I think that’s something that needs to be addressed.”
Asked if the problems stem from Mr Abbott, Mr Hockey or cabinet in general, she said: “All of the above. I think there needs to be much more backbench communication. And that clearly hasn’t happened.”
Ms Gambaro warned the government risked alienating voters by springing the debt levy on them.
“We did not go to the Australian people with this levy,” she said.
“I really believe it’s a breach of promise and I can’t support it.”
She said the levy would hit business confidence and make employers less willing to hire.
“I was never asked about this as a member of the party room. I was never told there’d be a proposed tax levy,” the MP said.
“It’s bad policy. We said we were going to be a government of no surprises and I think this is absolutely a breach of trust.”
She said she wrote to Mr Abbott a week and a half ago to raise concerns, including around pension reform.
She’s also written to Mr Hockey and spoken to him a couple of times over the past week about the levy.
“I have an economic background. I don’t think it will have any economic benefit,” she told the ABC.
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said he wasn’t consulted about the debt levy during last week’s Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra.
“We certainly didn’t talk about that,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
He wouldn’t say if Mr Abbott would be deemed to have broken an election promise if the levy was imposed.
But Mr Newman pointed out his own government had addressed debt issues in Queensland through spending cuts, not tax rises.
“He (Mr Abbott) has to make his decisions and it remains to be seen what he does,” the premier said.
“They have to stand accountable to the people of Australia for any decisions they make.”