The federal government remains as determined as ever to pass its tax cuts for big businesses, Malcolm Turnbull says, despite speculation they may be dropped as they approach near-certain defeat.
Draft laws slashing the tax rate for all businesses from 30 to 25 per cent will be up for debate in the Senate on Monday.
Ahead of the debate, Mr Turnbull hosted cabinet ministers for dinner at his prime ministerial digs in Canberra.
According to News Corp, the prime minister intended to canvass with his ministerial colleagues the idea of scrapping the tax cuts should they be rejected by the Senate.
But holding a press conference hours out from Sunday night’s dinner, the prime minister insisted the cuts weren’t dead yet.
“Negotiations continue,” Mr Turnbull told reporters at a rural property in western NSW.
“We are determined to ensure that our company tax system, our business tax system, is competitive.”
Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie is urging the government to stick with its tax cut plans.
“We need an internationally competitive tax rate for our globally exposed industries,” she told Sky News.
“I think it’s a sound plan and that’s why we’ll be taking it to the Senate this week.”
The cuts are unlikely to pass as both Labor and the Greens oppose them, and the government has been unable to convince enough crossbench senators.
Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is watching the crossbench negotiations closely.
On current numbers, just four crossbenchers are backing the cuts, leaving the government four votes short.
Mr Bowen is concerned crossbenchers could agree to fast tracking tax relief for small companies, which has already been agreed to, in return for their support for big business tax cuts.
Labor estimates bringing forward tax cuts for businesses turning over under $50 million could cost the budget $1.8 billion over the next four years, and $6.5 billion in the medium term.
Mr Bowen said that equated to what the government spent on the vocational education and training sector, and more than it spent on public broadcasters or border protection.