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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9965


Ms MACKLIN (Jagajaga) (14:36): My question is to the Prime Minister. Yesterday the Minister for Social Services publicly signalled that the government was planning to defer its harsh cuts to pensions, families and young job seekers, for now. Can the Prime Minister outline exactly which of his savage cuts will be deferred?

The SPEAKER: That is remarkably similar to a question we have already had, but still I give the call to the honourable the Prime Minister.

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:36): For the benefit of the shadow minister who asked the question, I can inform her and members opposite and the people of Australia that we stand by all the measures that we introduced in the budget. These measures are important in order to ensure that our social services are sustainable. They are important in order to ensure that this country eventually lives within its means, as we should. This government makes no apologies for wanting to change the rate of indexation applying to social services benefits, and the point I make to members opposite is that if it is right and proper—

Ms Macklin interjecting

The SPEAKER: If the member for Jagajaga wishes to hear the answer, she will remain silent, or leave.

Mr ABBOTT: to index family tax benefit by CPI, then it is right and proper to index other social services by CPI. If it is moral to do this in one respect, it is moral to do it in other respects, too. We absolutely stand by all of the proposals in the budget, but we absolutely accept and understand that in the end this government must get parliamentary support for certain budget measures. That is why we will talk to the opposition and to the crossbench and, indeed, to anyone who has the long-term national interests of our country at heart, because surely even members of the opposition must now accept that the debt and deficit legacy that this government inherited is simply unsustainable. I deeply regret the fact that there are $5 billion worth of savings which the former government announced prior to the election and which the opposition is currently is opposing, even though it supported it before the election. I do not think it is too late for members opposite to have an attack of common sense and a vision of the long-term national interest. That is why this government is prepared to talk even to the Labor Party if it is necessary in order to do the right thing by the people of this country.