Pauline Hanson has been asked to please explain her backflip on company tax cuts when four days after the Budget her chief-of-staff James Ashby was ‘begging’ another crossbench senator to back the policy. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian Hanson Hinch on Sunrise
Pauline Hanson has been asked to please explain her backflip on company tax cuts when four days after the Budget her chief-of-staff James Ashby was ‘begging’ another crossbench senator to back the policy. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian Hanson Hinch on Sunrise

Hanson may waver on company tax again

PAULINE Hanson has been asked to please explain her backflip on company tax cuts when four days after the Budget her chief-of-staff James Ashby was "begging" another crossbench senator to back the policy.

Crossbench senator Derryn Hinch called on the One Nation leader to explain her stance this morning in a fiery clash on Channel Seven's Sunrise program, saying he had received about ten long text messages from her "henchman" Ashby just days after the Budget asking him to back the tax cuts.

It raises questions about Senator Hanson's reasons for withdrawing her support for Malcolm Turnbull's policy, which aims to cut Australia's corporate tax rate from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over 10 years.

RELATED: Newspoll shows strong support for corporate tax cuts

One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson and media adviser James Ashby in Queensland in November. Picture: AAP
One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson and media adviser James Ashby in Queensland in November. Picture: AAP

Last week, Hanson cited Treasurer Scott Morrison's Budget as the tipping point that changed her mind, saying the Budget showed the government was not paying down mounting debt fast enough.

Critics have argued that the more pressing reason for Senator Hanson's change of heart, her second in three months, was that backing the tax cuts was unpopular with voters and could hurt One Nation's chances at the upcoming by-election in the federal seat of Longman in Queensland.

"Pauline, I'm amazed by you guys," Senator Hinch said on their joint appearance on Sunrise this morning.

"You're now against the company tax cuts. Four days after the Budget, I had your henchman James Ashby begging me in text messages and saying 'please support us, and please support the government on the company tax cuts totally' - including saying that 'You've had a liver transplant, Derryn - the economy needs a transplant'.

"So where have you come from? Where are you now?"

Hanson hit back accusing Hinch of changing his own mind multiple times on government policy, saying "half the time, you don't know what the hell you are saying or doing".

Senator Derryn Hinch has grilled Senator Hanson over her reasons for withdrawing support for the tax cuts. Picture: AAP
Senator Derryn Hinch has grilled Senator Hanson over her reasons for withdrawing support for the tax cuts. Picture: AAP

She explained that she would have supported the company tax cuts if they were going to be passed in March.

"Since then, upon reflection of the Budget tax speech that was handed down by the government, my concern is the debt we are in," Hanson said.

"No-one is addressing the debt. When I first spoke to the government about the corporate tax cuts, I actually said 'Why aren't you starting now? If it is going to create jobs and incentives, start it now, not eight years down the track'.

"And that's my stance on this."

Hinch doubled down, questioning why he had received about ten "long" texts from Mr Ashby four days after the Budget "begging" him to vote for the tax cuts, if the Budget was what changed One Nation's stance.

Hanson responded that she was not aware her office had contacted him.

She also said her staff were "not begging" but asking.

"Derryn, I am the senator, not James Ashby. The decision comes from me. That's where it stands," she said.

Hanson refused to back Hinch's proposal for tax cuts for companies with up to $500 million annual turnover.

But she indicated she wasn't entirely opposed to corporate tax cuts.

"I will listen to what the people are saying," she said.

Pauline Hanson during a press conference outside the banking and financial services royal commission in Melbourne last week. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian
Pauline Hanson during a press conference outside the banking and financial services royal commission in Melbourne last week. Picture: Aaron Francis/The Australian

Citing Newspoll results today that showed a majority of Australians back company tax cuts, Senator Hanson added: "You said they are saying 60 per cent plus want corporate tax cuts, well people can ring my office and they can put their message across to me that they want the corporate tax cuts."

Hanson said she had told Finance Minister Mathias Cormann that the if the government wanted to introduce the tax cut to create more jobs, they should introduce it immediately.

She said Australian companies paid 98 per cent of corporate tax in Australia and "they need a break by all means" but reiterated her demands that the government "go after" multinational companies to pay more tax.

The senator also reiterated she wanted the government to build a coal-fired power station to reduce electricity prices.

One Nation supported tax cuts for companies with a turnover of up to $50 million last year.

The Newspoll today, published in The Australian, shows 63 per cent of all voters back tax cuts for corporate Australia.

Sixty per cent of One Nation voters also backed the tax cuts, with 32 per cent saying they should be implemented immediately and 28 per cent wanting a gradual phase in over a decade.

More Labor voters supported the tax cuts (48 per cent) than were opposed (45 per cent).