The Abbott government’s budget is “no game” but was always going to be a marathon rather than a sprint, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says.
In a speech to the Sydney Institute on Tuesday night, Senator Cormann said Australia needed a reality check over the budget and Labor’s claims it was unfair were “nonsense”.
The government was also far from panicked over a budget deadlock, with the largest cut of $7.6 billion to foreign aid already through, he said.
His comments come as Treasury figures revealed in The Australian show 98.9 per cent of the government’s budget measures have been legislated for, including $25 billion in savings.
But Senator Cormann still warned a fiscal crisis, like that in some European countries, would increase the human toll and prolong the pain.
“I say this because at times it seems as if for some, the current debate about the budget is a bit like a spectator sport with a focus on how the contending teams are scoring when we are actually all in this together,” he said.
“This is no game.”
Appearing later on ABC, Senator Cormann reiterated his message saying the government always knew getting budget measures through the parliament would take some time.
“This was always going to be a marathon rather than a sprint,” he said.
But he said there was ample time to negotiate with Senators before the July 1, 2015 start date of some measures like the $7 GP co-payment.
Several of the government’s measures face defeat in the Senate with Labor, the Greens and key crossbenchers vowing to block the GP co-payment, changes to university fees and the scrapping of the mining tax.
“We are committed to the marathon,” Senator Cormann said.