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Family feud over heart of the federal budget

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If you’re a poor sod on a single $65,000 income and with two kids, Tony Abbott has his hand in your pocket in a big way.

Or, at least, you’re the particular demographic Labor has chosen to illustrate the perfidy of Abbott’s budget of broken promises.

But in the battle of the families that Monday’s question time became, the Labor model soon found itself opposed by a variety of family situations as devised by the prime minister.

Bill Shorten and an array of frontbenchers used question after question to throw their $65,000 and two kids family at Abbott.

The families would, they said, be $6000 worse off because of, and here different causes were offered – the GP co-payment, the resumption of fuel indexation, and the cuts to the family tax benefit.

At first Abbott hit back in general terms, saying people would continue to receive generous benefits.

And they’d be another $550 better off if Shorten would make an honest politician of himself by terminating the carbon tax.

As Labor’s catalogue continued, Abbott counter-attacked with a single income family with three kids, one under six and the others aged six to 13, on $60,000 who would get $17,920 a year from the social security system.

To the next questioner he changed the stats a bit. A family earning $60,000 with a 70-30 income split and two kids under six would get $10,067 from the system.

Wayne Swan on his way out.

We didn’t learn how a family with a dependent weimaraner and a couple of Russian blues will be treated.

Nor the Abominable Snowman, though Bob Katter did raise this fabled creature in totally mysterious circumstances.

“Ignore the Abominable Snowman,” Bronwyn Bishop ordered and Abbott complied.

Towards the end of the session even Bishop, who’s a whiz on parliamentary rules, learnt something utterly obscure.

Wayne Swan finally snapped as Abbott carried on about Labor’s debt and deficit.

“Liar,” the former treasurer shouted.

Bishop kicked him out for an hour and told him to withdraw.

Swan snapped: “I withdraw and he’s still a liar.”

Bishop, as she was probably bound to, “named” him; the start of a process leading to a government motion – routinely opposed by Labor – to suspend him for 24 hours.

Swan, who’d already left, tried to return to take part in the vote. Bishop initially kicked him back out and then, after advice, ruled he could come back and vote.

His vote, of course, made no difference and he became only the second Labor MP of this parliament to cop the full 24-hour treatment.

At least he wasn’t around to hear Abbott put the boot in.

The only explanation for Swan’s outburst, the PM surmised, was that he had a guilty conscience over his “fiscal fraud”.


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