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'Not good advice': Hockey rejects Costello's co-payment call -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey today rejected the advice of his predecessor and said he has no plan to dump the $7 GP co-payment.

Peter Costello, the nation's longest serving treasurer, says the Government should re-boot its budget by scrapping proposals set to be blocked in the Senate.

But Mr Hockey says this is not good advice.

As James Glenday reports from Canberra.

JAMES GLENDAY: Joe Hockey reportedly believes the budget has made him one of the most hated people in Australia.

Yesterday, an old hand gave the Treasurer a few tips on how to help alleviate his popularity problem.

PETER COSTELLO: If the Senate's really going to vote against something there's no point saying we're right and you're wrong.

JAMES GLENDAY: Former federal treasurer Peter Costello told Channel Ten the Government should reboot the budget argument by bringing forward the next intergenerational report and shelving some of the contentious bits.

PETER COSTELLO: You know, sooner or later you have got to cut your losses and there are a couple of measures there I think which won't go through.

The $7 co-payment I don't think is going to go through. It's just not going to happen.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, drop it.

PETER COSTELLO: So let's move on.

JAMES GLENDAY: No thanks is Joe Hockey's firm response.

JOE HOCKEY: Ah well, it's not good advice because frankly our budget is part of an overarching economic action strategy that has a number of different component parts.

Putting a price signal in relation to visits to the doctor and ensuring that the Medicare system is sustainable is a key part of the program.

JAMES GLENDAY: Treasury modelling, released under Freedom Of Information laws, shows that price signal could add more than $131 to the healthcare costs of some pensioners each year due to the combined impact of the $7 GP co-payment and an increase in the cost of some medicines in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Not every pensioner would pay that amount and the information has been available for several months.

But some Senate crossbenchers say they're concerned by the figures and that plays into Opposition Leader Bill Shorten's consistent budget campaign.

This morning he launched a new attack against the Government's proposed overhaul of the university sector.

BILL SHORTEN: In May, Australian's discovered how much they'd been systemically and wilfully lied to by Tony Abbott and his rotten bunch of lying cheaters.

JAMES GLENDAY: The Treasurer is also having some trouble with his multibillion dollar asset recycling fund, which would see States and Territories get a bonus if they privatise assets and use the money for new infrastructure projects.

Joe Hockey had threatened to bypass the Senate by putting the fund into an appropriations bill.

Appropriations bills often can't be amended by the Upper House without blocking supply but advice from the Parliamentary Library, obtained by Labor's Anthony Albanese, argues, in this case, changes can be made.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well, Labor has said very clearly, as have the Greens political party as well I note, that we wouldn't block supply.

But you don't make a bill a part of an appropriation simply by renaming it. It is another example of Joe Hockey being slack when it comes to paying attention to detail.

No wonder he got the nickname of Sloppy Joe in Opposition.

JAMES GLENDAY: The Government doesn't dispute the advice.

Now Joe Hockey could be forced to agree to changes from Labor, the Greens or the crossbenchers.

He says nearly $40 billion of infrastructure spending is on the line.

JOE HOCKEY: Well, we deal with everyone on all the issues. Our door is very much open.

Having said that, the Labor Party and the Greens are simply playing politics, which is hugely disappointing because it's going to cost jobs.

JAMES GLENDAY: Parliament doesn't resume for another two weeks and the Treasurer remains optimistic he can beat the budget blues and get many more measures through.

JOE HOCKEY: There's been a lot of statements, public statements, by a lot of people in the Senate.

That is the reality, there is a level of inconsistency from our political opponents that we have to deal with.

We're working through it methodically and carefully.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Treasurer Joe Hockey ending James Glenday's report.