John Howard and Malcolm Turbull do
not like each other, and Howard’s disposition towards his new
backbencher was not improved when Turnbull’s helpful taxation advice
was splashed all over Monday’s SMH.

it would have been delicious to be serving the drinks at The Lodge on
Monday night when the PM had Turnbull – and some other Liberal tax
agitators including Sophie Panopoulos – over for dinner. Howard told
Parliament yesterday it was a pleasant occasion, and it apparently
yielded one successful outcome: Turnbull will write to the SMH to “clarify” some of his reported comments attacking tax shelters for the rich.

Howard used the Coalition’s joint party meeting to dress down Turnbull
and the separate tax ginger group: “There’s enough people out there
criticising government policy,” he reminded his tax agitators. “If we
don’t get out and support our own policies, who else will?”

question, PM. Naturally, that didn’t stop Howard going on the radio and
throwing out the prospect of tax cuts in the upcoming Budget – PM puts surplus ahead of tax cut.

is clear is that the kind of tax relief he’s talking about – tinkering
with the system – is nowhere near enough for his increasingly
impatient Young Turks. Policy pressures are building up which he and
the Treasurer will find hard to reconcile with the simmering political
ambitions on his backbenches.