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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9963


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:30): My question is to the Prime Minister. Yesterday the Minister for Social Services initially signalled in the Sunday Telegraph that the government was planning to defer its harsh cuts to pensions, for now. Since then, the Treasurer has denied these initial claims. So, Prime Minister, who is telling the truth?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:31): The government stands by the proposals that were included in the recent budget, and those proposals will certainly ensure that pensions continue to go up twice a year every year. They will go up every March; they will go up every September. The rate of increase might be a little different from 2017 onwards, but what these changes do will mean that our social services system is sustainable into the long-term, and that is a very, very important national goal. Our country could not go on as it was, living way beyond its means. We cannot go on as we still are, borrowing $1 billion a month every single month to pay the interest on the former government's debt and deficit and to sustain spending programs which this country simply could not and cannot afford.

So we stand by our budget, but nevertheless we do accept that some of the budget measures do need to be negotiated through the Senate—

Ms Macklin interjecting

Mr ABBOTT: and we will do so in a constructive, a courteous and a collegial way.

The SPEAKER: The member for Jagajaga will desist.