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Abbott’s budget battle begins

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The Abbott government is expected to face an uphill battle to pass its signature budget measures through the Senate, as Federal Parliament resumes sitting today.

The Abbott government could face an early budget shortfall as current and future senators have said they will reject key measures.

This means that savings will be a lot lower than expected or changes will have to be legislated retrospectively to avoid a budget black hole.

Labor’s Senator Penny Wong confirmed that Labor will not oppose the 2 per cent temporary deficit levy on high-income earners, but other budget measures are expected to be opposed, according to a report in The Age.

Items such as the two-year freeze on indexation of family payments have already been booked as delivering savings of $400 million in 2014-2015, but will not pass before July due to opposition from Labor and the Greens.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he wouldn’t surrender his government’s budget commitments to the Senate, according to a report by Sky News.

Greens leader Christine Milne told the Sydney Morning Herald that Mr Abbott “does not have the skills” to negotiate with the minor parties and she did not trust him.

Palmer United Party leader Clive Palmer slammed the idea of retrospectively increasing taxes, and has promised to block measures in the new Senate.

“I guess what’s astounding is that there is a whole raft of things which are repugnant to the Australian people,” Mr Palmer told The Age.

“The magnitude is wholly different … we’re not passing any of them.”

ALP-commissioned private polling obtained by Fairfax Media has confirmed that the majority of voters are unhappy with the Abbott government budget.

The polling by market research company UMR shows that 76 per cent of respondents disapprove of federal cuts to public hospitals.

Six in 10 voters are opposed to four other key areas including higher costs to prescriptions, the re-indexation of the petrol tax, a delayed pension age of 70, and the proposed paid parental leave scheme.

A spokesman for the government’s leader in the Senate, Eric Abetz, admitted that there was a battle ahead for the Abbott government to pass the budget.

“It will not be an easy road at all,” said the spokesman.