Tony Abbott has begun his post-budget media blitz, saying the tough measures are necessary for the nation’s future.
Tony Abbott is defending his government’s unpopular first budget, saying it’s “fundamentally honest” and the right thing for the nation.
Beginning his post-budget media blitz, the prime minister has conceded voters won’t like a lot of the measures.
But they are necessary, he says.
“I want to do what’s right for the country, not what’s right for the government,” he told the Nine Network in his first comments since the budget was handed down on Tuesday.
The government was being up front with the Australian people about the state of the nation’s finances.
“This is a fundamentally honest budget,” Mr Abbott said.
“We are not going to cook the books, we are not going to make a series of rosy assumptions,” he said.
The government cannot keep using its credit card to pay the nation’s mortgage, he said.
The budget includes a $7 charge for GP visits, lower pension rises and hikes in the fuel excise and income tax for people earning over $180,000.
It also includes cuts to family benefits, foreign aid and the ABC.
But Mr Abbott is keen to stress the budget also contains “hope for the future” with its record infrastructure spending and a $20 billion medical research fund.
Asked repeatedly whether the budget broke his key election promises, he told Network Ten: “I think we have kept faith with the Australian public.”
But he acknowledged: “Some people will be disappointed, some people will feel let down.”
During one TV interview, Mr Abbott was confronted by an elderly woman angry about changes to the age pension.
“If we pull the belt any tighter we’re going to choke to death,” she said.
“I challenge you: come out and meet some of the pensioners, they’ll tell you a little thing or two.”
Mr Abbott said he’d been given a piece of her mind.
“Fair enough, that’s your right in a democracy, to be able to tell the prime minister exactly what you think of him,” he said on Ten.
“This is a fair budget, everyone is doing his or her bit, including, dare I say, politicians.”
The pensioner laughed and said: “You’re a comedian.”