Negative gearing: government in neutral gear. No, that's forward... Hang on, reverse... gear
PM Turnbull was someone whom W&D hitherto had considered to be a smart fella. But Captain Turnbull has worn out his thongs, flip-flopping around the tax-reform ship. That ship had became becalmed on a sea of indecision.
And then the Labor Party, in a somewhat ballsy fashion, if W&D might use that somewhat muscular term, presented the government and we-the-taxpayer with its negative gearing tax reform proposals. W&D thought that PM Turnbull had a choice of two Plans:
Plan A. An opportunity for tax-reform leadership
As the government was clearly becalmed, the Labor Party's policy was an opportunity to show some real tax-reform leadership and to say that some parts of the proposal had merit, etc; were actively being considered, etc; but the government would consider it within an overall tax policy.
Plan B. An opportunity to politicise the debate
As the Labor Party's policy was controversial, there was an electoral opportunity to reject it out of hand, hysterically predict the end of the world, etc. And that the removal of negative gearing tax concessions would cause house prices to fall dramatically, destroying the wealth of the nation, etc.
PM Turnbull chose Plan B. He chose unwisely. For three reasons:
1. By reverting to Abbott-like negativity he, unintentionally, showed a want of government tax-reform policy;
2. He made the erroneous assumption that Australian housing prices were being propped up by negative gearing (just try to think through the logic of that), thereby displaying economic ignorance;
3. He left open the door of government confusion, through which purposefully strode both Assistant Treasurers - who stated that Labor's policy would cause house prices to rise.
The result? The government's tax-reform credentials are now drifting rudderless on a tide of indecision toward the rocks.