Tony Abbott believes key budget measures will get through parliament, saying people will back the man with a plan.
Senior government ministers have been accused of being ignorant of their own policies as the prime minister continues to hard sell an unpopular budget.
Tony Abbott on Sunday remained optimistic budget measures – including the $7 Medicare co-payment – would pass parliament, insisting Australians wanted a man with a plan, not a bunch of complainers.
“Whether it’s (opposition leader) Bill Shorten, whether it’s the Greens, whether it’s others – it’s one long chorus of complaint,” the prime minister said.
“The man with the plan has an extraordinary advantage over the person who has just got the complaint.”
But Labor said the government was ignoring what the people wanted – which was not Abbott’s budget.
Mr Shorten said the prime minister had lost control of not only his budget, but of ministers who did not know details of their own policies.
He jumped on Mr Abbott quashing reports a senior minister was considering drug testing dole recipients, while he accused education minister Christopher Pyne of contradicting his university-fee change policy.
“Australians are appalled that this government can’t maintain the same position for 24 hours without something changing,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.
He vowed again to block large parts of the budget including the co-payment, prompting scorn from Mr Abbott.
The prime minister said it was bizarre for Labor to be “waxing morally indignant” in opposing the co-payment when former Labor leader Bob Hawke sought to introduce it in the 1990s.
But opposition frontbencher Jason Clare said Labor stood up to Mr Hawke on the co-payment and it would do the same with Mr Abbott.
The coalition now has to horse-trade with crossbench senators to realise its budget.
Mr Abbott admits refinement of some measures may be necessary and has been wooing minor party and independent senators to get them on board.
He defused questions about whether he had a difficult relationship with Clive Palmer whose party with key independents would hold the balance of power in the Senate from July 1.
It was “perfectly normal” for senior members of the coalition, like frontbencher Malcolm Turnbull, to hold talks with Mr Palmer in his place, Mr Abbott said.