Putting a family member at the heart of your pitch for a new tax is a high-wire political strategy.
Scott Morrison chose to take that risky approach in last year’s budget, introducing the nation to his brother-in-law Gary Warren, who is a firefighter suffering from multiple sclerosis.
“I don’t know a finer man than Gary,” a choked-up Treasurer said on the day after delivering his budget, which included a Medicare levy increase to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Mr Warren was in his wheelchair among an audience of journalists when Mr Morrison called on Australians to “chip in for this compassionate cause”.
To manage the political danger of announcing a new tax, Mr Morrison explained it as an insurance levy.
“All of us, but for the grace of God, could find ourselves in that situation, and we’d be expecting and hoping that our mates would be looking after us,” he said.
A year later, he has abandoned that passionate appeal to the nation’s better angels.
Sense of betrayal among people with disabilities
The Treasurer has climbed down — or perhaps taken a tumble — from the high-wire, and is instead arguing that the levy is no longer needed.