An incoming coalition federal government might not have much room to move on tax reform in its first term because of the state of the budget, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has warned.
But Mr Hockey on Friday assured attendees at a conference in Sydney this would not rule out system-wide reforms in a further term in government.
He also attacked Labor's "shambolic approach" to tax reform, saying it was damaging Australia's reputation.
"Our country needs a government that has a consistent, transparent, logical and predictable approach on taxation reform if it wishes to build business and investment confidence," Mr Hockey told the Institute of Chartered Accountants national conference.
The first priority for an incoming coalition government would be to get the budget back under control and Mr Hockey repeated the opposition's promise to abolish Labor's carbon and mining taxes.
He said the carbon tax was directly impacting living costs, while the mining tax was unlikely to raise enough revenue to cover the government initiatives it supposed to fund.
"The fiscal position we are likely to inherit after the election limits the scope and scale of tax reform that we would be able to achieve in a first term of government," Mr Hockey said.
"That is not to say that there will never be the opportunity for system-wide tax reform in a further term of a coalition government."
Mr Hockey said a first term coalition government would still hold to its plan to improve the current system of tax administration at the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
"Many of you are telling me that the government's ad hoc and inconsistent approach to policy implementation has seeped into the ATO's dealings with business," he said.
"The ATO's lack of understanding as to how the private sector ticks, especially small and micro businesses, has been an acute cause for frustration in recent years."