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PM under pressure on company tax cuts

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Emboldened by two crucial by-election victories, Labor leader Bill Shorten is ramping up the pressure on Malcolm Turnbull to dump planned corporate tax cuts.

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It comes amid reports some government ministers want Turnbull to drop promised tax relief for businesses with a turnover of more than $50 million.

“He needs to drop these tax cuts on the way out of office. He needs to drop them and then he needs to leave the keys to The Lodge and then he needs to go,” Shorten told the Nine Network today.

While Turnbull is still committed to the tax cut plan, he has stopped short of recommitting to take the policy to the next election.

The prime minister said the government would look “very seriously and thoughtfully and humbly” at the response from voters.

However, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann is determined to bring the legislation to a vote in the Senate in the next sitting fortnight, and take the tax cuts to the next election if the bill is defeated.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott said while he accepted the case for company tax cuts, they were not a vote winner and there was no point in putting them off.

Abbott said the Coalition’s candidates cannot be blamed for the poor by-election results, arguing the government must listen to the voters and recalibrate its approach.

“We’ve got to draw the right lessons from Saturday, do things that are consistent with our values, give our people something to fight for, something for the electorate to hope in,” Abbott told 2GB radio.

He restated calls to pull out of the Paris climate agreement and scale back immigration, but insisted he did not want to dump Turnbull as party leader.

“I don’t want to change the leader, I want to change the policy. If you change leader but not policy, you jump out of the frying pan into the fire.”

The Catholic school sector has claimed success over the government in the Queensland seat of Longman.

Education minister Simon Birmingham pointed out the government last year initiated a review into concerns by Catholic educators, and would respond in coming months.

Labor retained the marginal federal seats of Longman and Braddon in Tasmania, despite months of hard campaigning by the Liberals.

Cabinet minister Christopher Pyne claimed the by-election results were good for the government, despite a 10 per cent swing against the LNP in Longman, saying it was never going to win anyway.

Susan Lamb’s Longman win, with an expected 54.5 per cent of the two-party preferred vote, came on the back of a One Nation drain of LNP votes.

A similar swing at a general election could threaten senior government figures, including Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

– AAP

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