Swan says coalition ‘splintering’

Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan says the coalition is “splintering” under Tony Abbott’s leadership and Labor has “some wind at its back”.

Mr Swan told caucus colleagues at a meeting in Canberra on Tuesday that “sharp differences” were appearing between the major parties’ policies and values.

“The more people look at Abbott the more dangerous they see he is,” Mr Swan said.

“No political leader has injected more venom and aggression into political life than Tony Abbott since he became opposition leader.”

While not directly referring to recent polls which showed Labor becoming more competitive, Mr Swan said the party had “wind at its back”.

The coalition would “splinter” under further pressure, and that its negative political strategy was “held together by chewing gum”.

With Prime Minister Julia Gillard away in Perth for a soldier’s funeral, Mr Swan responded to question from Labor MPs.

Asked directly whether the government would consider a rise in the Medicare levy to pay for the national disability insurance scheme, Mr Swan said: “No.”

One MP suggested the government expand the tax base, to which Mr Swan replied that revenue had been written down due to falling commodity prices but the government was aiming to keep the proportion of tax to gross domestic product below that under the Howard government.

Labor senator Doug Cameron was critical of retiring Productivity Commission chairman Gary Banks, arguing that the body needed a broader base of expertise.

Mr Swan said Mr Banks had been a good public servant.

The caucus approved recent changes to the carbon price, which will see it linked to the European emissions trading scheme in 2015 and the floor price removed.

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