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Budget a ‘watershed moment’

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has told the coalition that the federal budget will be a “watershed moment” in Australian history.

Mr Abbott reassured his Liberal and National MPs and senators that the government has not “squibbed” the budget task.

“This is a watershed moment, when a bold new government does what has to be done to set the nation on a better course,” he said.

Mr Abbott said the public will respect the government for the budget, even if there are parts of it people don’t like.

“This is the right budget for our country,” he said.

“It is carefully crafted to do the right thing to our country, and to be fair.”

The prime minister said Peter Costello’s 1996 budget was the last hard budget – but this one has even more major reforms.

Several MPs raised concerns about pre-budget leaks over the last few weeks, but Mr Abbott told them that the end product was the most important thing.

Treasurer Joe Hockey’s first budget is expected to include a co-payment when visiting the doctor, a temporary levy on high income earners, a future rise in the pension age to 70, the reintroduction of indexation on fuel excise and big cuts to the public service.

“If you are only looking in the budget for your own interest then you may be disappointed,” Mr Hockey said.

“But if you are looking for the national interest, you’ll be cheered.”

He believes it is a “terrific” budget that will shape the destiny of the nation.

It will include an economic growth package with innovative workforce participation measures that will help create the jobs that are so necessary, Mr Hockey said.

“It will be an easy budget to criticise but for the nation, it will be an important budget to support,” he said.