INDEPENDENT MP Rob Oakeshott says senior figures from both major parties have told him they want comprehensive tax reform, including a review of the GST, but are unwilling to debate the issue before the election.
Interviewed on ABC radio this morning, Mr Oakeshott did not name the MPs he had spoken to, but said ''senior'' politicians from Labor and the Coalition had contacted him and acknowledged the need for reform.
''Privately, the basic sentiment that comes through is 'we get it - we just don't want to go there prior to an election','' Mr Oakeshott said on ABC Radio.
Mr Oakeshott said he wanted to ''flush out'' a national conversation about tax reform ahead of the election.
''Why this risk averse approach prior to an election when in my view there is an opportunity for the political parties if they frame the conversation correctly,'' he said.
''It shouldn't just be about the GST. This is about why on earth in Australia we have insurance taxes at all. Why do we still have stamp duty in Australia in 2012?
"It's removing those inefficient state taxes that is the game. And if we've got to have a look at how we work some of these so-called efficient taxes harder to achieve that purpose, then that is an opportunity to engage the Australian community, not a threat pre-election.
''Let's have the discussion openly.''
But both major parties have publicly ruled out changes to the GST.
Finance Minister Penny Wong told Sky News on Tuesday that the government was looking at the distribution of the GST, but was not considering broader changes.
''We are not in the cart for increasing the rate, nor extending the base,'' she said.
On Monday shadow treasurer Joe Hockey repeatedly denied the Coalition would apply the GST to more items or lift the rate, saying to do so would increase the cost of living.
Mr Oakeshott will meet Treasury officials in Sydney today to be briefed on the operation of the mining tax.