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Abbott facing budget backlash

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The Abbott government has suffered a slump in the polls as support for the coalition continues to evaporate amid a voter backlash over key measures in the federal budget and a sustained attack from Labor over new taxes.

A ReachTel poll in Fairfax newspapers shows Labor on a potentially election winning 54 per cent, against 46 per cent for the coalition.

It gives Labor a primary vote of 39.8 per cent, coalition 37.8 per cent, Greens 10.5 per cent and Palmer United Party seven per cent.

More than two-thirds are opposed the proposal to lift the pension age from 65 to 70. Opposition was strongest among those aged over 65.

The results of the ReachTel survey follow a similar trend to other polls published over the past week.

The Abbott government’s slide in the polls comes as Labor maintains its attack over plans to introduce a $7.50 co-payment for each visit to the doctor.

Shadow health minister Catherine King on Saturday said despite warnings from every informed health sector stakeholder, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was determined to introduce a tax that would spell the end of Medicare.

“A tax of $7.50 will dissuade unwell Australians from seeing their doctor and potentially ending up much sicker, ultimately costing the health system a lot more,” Ms King said in a statement.

The government is also tipped to impose new conditions for those on the disability support pension (DSP), requiring under-35s to undergo a review of work capacity.

Moves to tighten the DSP were foreshadowed in the Commission of Audit which said it was costing $15.8 billion a year.

It said new assessment criteria introduced in 2012 only applied to new entrants, creating inequalities with existing DSP recipients which should be addressed.

Liberal MP Alan Tudge, parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, said the DSP was growing rapidly, with more than 800,000 recipients and tens of thousands more each year.

“What we would like to do is to ensure that those who are able to work are encouraged to do so,” he told Sky News.

Labor frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite said Labor government reforms aimed to ensure support for those who wanted to work and the necessary home support through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

“The Commission of Audit recommendations are to slow down the rollout of the NDIS,” he said.

“That’s not the way we should be supporting people with disabilities, particularly encouraging them into work.”