Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he has been “absolutely upfront” with the states over health and education funding despite the budget stripping them of $80 billion.
Angry state and territory leaders – excluding Western Australia’s Colin Barnett – will meet in Sydney on Sunday to forge battle plans against what they describe as the federal government’s “deeply unfair” cuts.
Last Tuesday’s federal budget shocked states by including $80 billion in cuts over 10 years, achieved by dumping school and hospital deals struck with the previous Labor government.
The prime minister said he had been open with the states about the cuts before last year’s election.
“We said we would honour the then government’s commitments over the then (four-year) forward estimates,” he said.
“We said that we weren’t bound by their pie-in-the-sky promises for the four years.
“We’ve just been absolutely upfront with the states.”