Treasurer Joe Hockey was jeered and cheered during his appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program last night, one week after he delivered the first budget of the Abbott Government.
The audience questioned the Treasurer on changes to unemployment benefits, higher education, pensions and the health system announced in the budget.
Mr Hockey said the state of the country’s books justified the cuts and other measures announced by the Government.
“After the 1996 budget, governments have been handing out money,” he said.
“At various points it was based on extra revenue from the mining boom, in more recent years it has been borrowings. It has to come to an end.
“What we’re trying to make sure is that the pain is as fairly as possible across the electorate.”
Mr Hockey’s appearance comes after polls published in the Fairfax and News Corp papers showed support for the Coalition had slumped in light of the budget.
The polls were published a day after state and territory leaders met in Sydney for emergency talks on $80 billion in budget cuts for schools and hospitals over the next decade.